The Black Lives Matter movement was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize for its work highlighting America’s race issues on Thursday.
In a room full of Sydney, Australia citizens and community leaders, the audience clapped, cheered, and chanted “Black Lives they matter here” as movement leaders Patrisse Cullors, Rodney Diverlus, and Dawn Modkins accepted the award.
“It is a duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains,” Cullors, a co-founder of the group said after receiving the award on a live stream. With her fist raised in the air and the crowd repeating after her.
The group was awarded the prize “for building a powerful movement for racial equality, courageously reigniting a global conversation around state violence and racism,” the Sydney Peace Foundation, a body within the University of Sydney, said in a statement.
This is the first time the foundation has given the award to an organization. In the past, the prize has been bestowed on individuals such as South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The social media hashtag with which it shares its name began after neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2013. It gained traction when a police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, in Ferguson, Missouri the following year, sparking nationwide protests.
The group has been at the forefront of U.S. activism against police brutality, mass incarceration, and racial inequality. The movement is being hailed by Australian activists as a progressive step and is also shining a spotlight on Australia’s own struggles with race relations.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Foluke Tuakli and Chandelis R. Duster