On the heels of being called out for her $3 million property portfolio, the Black Lives Matter co-founder and self-proclaimed Marxist has decided to call it quits. Patrisse Cullors announced on Thursday, May 28, that she was stepping down from her leadership duties with BLM. To some critics, the timing is, at the very least, suspicious, right on the tail of her spending spree as well as some within the non-profit organization calling for an investigation to see if she had received any monies to help with those purchases. However, Cullors insists the one had nothing to do with the other and that her retirement plan had been in the works for a year now.
“I’ve created the infrastructure and the support, and the necessary bones and foundation, so that I can leave,” the BLM leader said. “It feels like the time is right.” As for the spending spree, Cullors told the Associated Press, “Those were right-wing attacks that tried to discredit my character, and I don’t operate off of what the right thinks about me.”
Not all of the bashings came from the right, however. BLM organizer Hawk Newsome told The New York Post:
“If you go around calling yourself a socialist, you have to ask how much of her own personal money is going to charitable causes. It’s really sad because it makes people doubt the validity of the movement and overlook the fact that it’s the people that carry this movement.”
Cullors refers to herself as a “trained Marxist,” but her spending habits have been called anything but. One of her projects, Reform LA Jails, paid $10,179 for “meetings and appearances” at the Calamigos Guest Ranch and Beach Club in 2019, and another $15,593 at the Malibu Conference Center, according to The Daily Mail. The two-bedroom ranch suite costs $1,200 in July, the time of the meetings, and guests had access to a five-acre private beach on the Malibu coast.
Former Fox host Megyn Kelly took to Twitter to berate Cullors’ spending:
“BLM must stand for … Babes Lounging in Malibu? Big Loads of Money? Blatant Lies About Marxism?”
Meanwhile, some of the activists within the BLM organization have also taken Cullors to task for not providing their chapters with funding despite the headquarters receiving around $90 million last year in donations, of which only about $20 million has been publicly accounted for so far. “That is the most tragic aspect,” said Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson, president of an Oklahoma City BLM chapter as well as a representative of the #BLM10, a national group of organizations that have criticized the foundation for not being transparent enough. She added, “I know some of (the families) are feeling exploited, their pain exploited, and that’s not something that I ever want to be affiliated with.”
Skeptics watch the events unfolding with raised eyebrows doubting the 37-year-old activist’s resignation from the BLM organization is just, as she indicates, the right time to do so. After six years, and the fame her role has provided, Cullors has made a lot of money by giving speeches, and more recently, book deals and a multi-year television deal development with Warner Bros. On Oct. 5, her newest publication, “An Abolitionist Handbook,” will be released by St. Martin’s Press. July will see the first of her television projects, which focuses on black stories.
“I think I will probably be less visible,” Cullors remarked, “because I won’t be at the helm of one of the largest, most controversial organizations right now in the history of our movement.” She added, “I’m aware that I’m a leader, and I don’t shy away from that. But no movement is one leader.”
The other two BLM co-founders resigned earlier, and the foundation is bringing aboard interim senior executives to help: Monifa Bandele, a BLM organizer and founder of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in New York City, and Makani Themba, a chief strategist at Higher Ground Change Strategies in Jackson, MS, and an early backer of the BLM movement.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.
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