University YMCA
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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


With Opal Tometi, Co-Founder of the National Black Lives Matter Movement

RSVP by Monday, February 15, 2016.
Tickets are $50 per person. A number of sponsored tickets will be available for free. Please contact Kasey at or call 217-337-1500 to ask about sponsored tickets.


Image of Opal Tometi
Opal Tometi, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter Movement

A dedicated activist working at the intersection of racial justice and immigrant rights for more than a decade, Opal Tometi was incensed by the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin—and inspired to take action. Starting the Twitter hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, Tometi (with Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors), prompted activism nationwide and introduced the banner under which this generation’s civil rights movement marches.

An established immigration rights advocate and community organizer, Tometi’s passionate interest stems from experience as the child of Nigerian immigrants. Recognized as a rising leader in the movement, she was named a “New Civil Rights Leader” by the Los Angeles Times for her work building movements that bridge immigrant and human rights initiatives to the ever-growing black liberation movement. In 2015, Tometi and her fellow Black Lives Matter co-founders were honored with inclusion on The Root’s Top 100 List for the movement’s social and political impact.

As the Executive Director at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Tometi is at the helm of the country’s leading black organization for immigrant rights, steering initiatives including the first Congressional briefing on black immigrants. She has also presented at the United Nations and has participated with the UN’s Global Forum on Migration and Commission on the Status of Women.

With personal perspective as a first generation American and an experienced community organizer, Tometi reveals raw insights into the adversity inflicted by social injustice, anti-black bias and uninformed views on immigration, educating and inspiring audiences to organize and stand together to transform society into a world where the lives and contributions of all individuals are recognized equally.



The University YMCA hosts Opal Tometi, Co-Founder of the National Black Lives Matter Movement on Friday February 19, 2016.
A Conversation with Opal Tometi will begin at 12:00pm in Allen Hall on the UIUC campus will begin at 12pm. This event is free and open to the public.
(Follow the event on Facebook.)
The Lunch Reception with Opal Tometi and members of the local chapter of Black Lives Matter will follow her talk at 1:30pm at the University YMCA. The lunch reception with Opal Tometi is an opportunity for people to learn more about the state of the movement and how the movement is playing out in Champaign-Urbana. Tickets are available for purchase using the form above or by calling 217-337-1500. (Follow the event on Facebook.)

Opal Tometi’s visit is a part of the Spring 2016 Friday Forum lecture series, “Breaking Down Down Racism: Fighting Racial Injustice in the U.S.” Her visit marks the third event in the series that builds upon discussions of young people’s experiences with racism by highlighting specific tools, campaigns, and changes necessary to combat racism and break down the institutional barriers to equality. A special thank you to the Bruce Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, Central Black Student Union and funding by SORF for making Opal Tometi's visit possible.

The Friday Forum lecture series is a program of the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St, Champaign.? The views expressed by the speakers do not necessarily reflect the views of the University YMCA, co-sponsors, or the Friday Forum committee. A sign language interpreter is available with a 72 hours notice (contact Carol Nunn at 217-337-1500). All forums are radio broadcast at 6:00 p.m. on WEFT 90.1 the Monday following the lecture. You may also find archived Friday Forum lectures on the Y's YouTube channel.

All Friday Forum lectures at the University YMCA are free and open to the public.

The Spring 2016 Friday Forum lectures series, “Breaking Down Racism: Fighting Racial Injustice in the U.S.” is sponsored by: Anne Robin, Atmospheric Science, Black Lives Matter: Champaign-Urbana, Bruce Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, Center for African Studies, a National Resource Center under the U.S. Department of Education's Title VI Program, Central Black Student Union, Channing Murray Foundation, The Chapel of St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, College of Fine and Applied Arts, Counseling Center, C-U AAUW, Department of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism, Diversity and Social Justice Education, First Mennonite Church, First Presbyterian Church of Monticello, Friedman Law Group, LTD, Human Development and Family Studies, League of Women Voters of Champaign County, LGBT Resource Center, McKinley Presbyterian Church and Foundation, New Covenant Fellowship, Prairie Research Institute, The School of Social Work, Social Action Committee of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois Speech and Hearing Science Department, UC Books to Prisoners, Urbana-Champaign Friends Meeting, Wesley Foundation of the University of Illinois, Wesley United Methodist Church, YWCA of the University of Illinois. Funded by SORF.