Opal Tometi

Co-Founder, #BlackLivesMatter

Opal Tometi is a New York based Nigerian-American writer, communications strategist and cultural organizer. Ms. Tometi is a co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter. The historic political project and leader-full network was launched in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin in order to explicitly combat implicit bias and anti-black racism and to protect and affirm the beauty and dignity of all Black lives.

Ms. Tometi is currently at the helm of the country’s leading Black organization for immigrant rights, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), a national organization that educates and advocates to further immigrant rights and racial justice together with African-American, Afro-Latino, African and Caribbean immigrant communities. As the executive director at BAJI, Opal collaborates with staff and communities in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, Oakland, Washington, DC and communities throughout the Southern states. The organization’s most recent campaign helped win family reunification visas for Haitians displaced by the 2010 earthquake.

A transnational feminist, Ms. Tometi supports and helps shape the strategic work of Pan African Network in Defense of Migrant Rights, and the Black Immigrants Network (BIN) international and national formations respectively, dedicated to people of African descent. She has presented at the United Nations and participated with the UN’s Global Forum on Migration and Commission on the Status of Women.

Prior to becoming executive director, Opal worked as co-director and communications director at BAJI. Her contributions include leading organizing efforts for the first ever Black-led rally for immigrant justice and the first Congressional briefing on Black immigrants in Washington DC. Additionally, she coordinated BAJI’s work as launch partner with Race Forward’s historic Drop The I-Word campaign, working with the campaign to raise awareness about the importance of respectful language and history through the lens of the Great Migration, the Civil Rights Movement and current migration of the Black diaspora.  

Opal has been active in social movements for over a decade. She is a student of liberation theology and her practice is in the tradition of Ella Baker, informed by Stuart Hall, bell hooks and Black Feminist thinkers. She has been published in the Oxford Dictionary of African Biographies and she was named a “New Civil Rights Leader” by the Los Angeles Times in 2015 and ESSENCE magazine in 2014, for her cutting edge movement building work which bridges immigrant and human rights work to the ever-growing Black liberation movement. She was a lead architect of the Black-Brown Coalition of Arizona and was involved in grassroots organizing against SB 1070 with the Alto Arizona campaign.  Opal is a former case manager for survivors of domestic violence and still provides community education on the issue.

Ms. Tometi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Masters of Arts degree in Communication and Advocacy.  The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, she grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York where she loves riding her single speed bike and collecting African art.

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