Nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize have recently closed, and among them is an unusual candidate — the Black Lives Matter movement, which since 2013 has been a pivotal voice in the Black community nationally but in the past year has gained global recognition.
The movement was nominated by a Norwegian parliament member representing the Socialist Left Party, Petter Eide. Eide said in his official nomination papers that the movement forced other countries to face racism. Eide compared BLM’s work to both Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement and Nelson Mandela in the South African Anti-Apartheid Movement.
Andre Brown, editor-in-chief of Black Philadelphia Magazine, said although he does not have much experience working with the organization, he too agrees with its core principles of peace and anti-violence.
According to the Nobel Peace Prize’s website, “The candidates eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize are those persons or organizations nominated by qualified individuals.”
Beginning as a social media hashtag, after George Zimmerman was acquitted for the death of an unarmed black teen, Trayvon Martin, the movement began to function as an organization, with more than 40 chapters nationwide.
Gabriel Bryant, a community organizer and youth advocate said winning the award would provide more clarity on what it means to fight for peace. Bryant said winning would make a historical mark that in retrospect will encourage a deeper understanding and appreciation for the movement’s goal.
Many agree with the movement’s ideology although others have highlighted the group’s political agenda as more radical than many are led to believe.
“It is radical. It is leftist. Those things are true. If someone were to say it was violent, I disagree in the same way our movements in the past were focusing on self-defense,” said Bryant. Self-defense is not violent. If someone is put in a corner and lashes out, they’re responding to a condition.”
Others feel the nomination would provide much-needed recognition to help non-supporters view the movement in a different way.
Dr. Sheena Sood, an independent scholar who teaches at Temple University, said people who view the movement as anti-white and terrorist may view the movement differently, giving BLM honor in a new light. Sood said the nomination would give the organization its long-overdue recognition, but she worries if gestures like the nomination will be taken seriously.
Black Lives Matter Philadelphia is continuing to expand its impact in the community with its recent work. BLMphilly is about to begin another round of the Black educator fund. The program provides additional assistance for Black teachers working in a struggling Philadelphia School District.
The nomination process has ended. The Nobel Peace committee will make its decision on the winner in October. Award winners will be announced on Dec. 10.