While the country waits for Congress to pass a COVID-19 relief package, The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation and BLM Grassroots announced on Thursday that it will give $3 million to members of the Black community who have been financially crippled by the pandemic.
More than 506,000 Americans to date have died from COVID-19, and more than 28.3 million people have contracted the virus. On top of that, many Americans have lost their jobs and are in need of immediate relief. “Congress absolutely needs to step up and provide monthly survival checks for our communities,” said Patrisse Cullors, co-founder and executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. “Because they have refused to do so, we are challenged to provide as much mutual aid as possible to help cover the rent, groceries, utilities, gas and general costs of survival.”
Through the BLM Survival Fund, the organization plans to give $1,000 grants to Black people who are struggling financially due to Covid-19, and Black families who have lost loved ones at the hands of law enforcement, or while incarcerated.
According to the organization, the BLM Survival Fund is comparable to the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast program for children, which usually included chocolate milk, eggs, meat, cereal and fresh oranges before school. The program allowed the Black Panther Party to protect and care for the Black community in a very tangible way.
“From Richard Allen to Biddy Mason to the Black Panther Party…and many of our own parents and grandparents…the Black liberation movement is filled with examples of mutual aid, community care and other cooperative economic models,” said Melina Abdullah, co-director of BLM Grassroots and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles. “The BLM Survival Fund is part of a long legacy of our community stepping in to support those failed by the government.”
BLM, which has recently been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, is known for leading nationwide protests of the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many more. Its leaders believe it’s important to protest systemic injustice, but they also believe it’s important to meet the needs of members of the Black community during tumultuous times.
“There is so much more to our organization—and movement—than just telling the global community that our lives matter,” Cullors said. “We will never abandon our fight for racial justice and our struggle for liberation, and our vision must include the pursuit of opportunities that heal, nourish, and rejuvenate our lives.”