Here Are the 10 Most Inspirational L.A. Women of 2015


Patrisse Cullors

She channeled frustration and pain into a global call for civil rights

Patrisse Cullors

Photograph by Emily Shur

Patrisse Cullors didn’t know what would happen when she tweeted “#blacklivesmatter” following George Zimmerman’s 2013 acquittal in the shooting death of Travon Martin, but the 32-year-old social justice worker’s intention was clear: “It was a rallying call.” The phrase, which crystallized the systematic degrading of African Americans, helped launch a movement. Today Cullors, who lives in Mid City, is working to fix policies and cultural mores that are discriminatory, with 26 Black Lives Matter chapters across the United States and in Canada. “When black lives are valued,” she says, “everybody’s life will be better.”

Why she does it: “I was nine when Rodney King was beaten by the LAPD in my grandmother’s neighborhood, Lake View Terrace. Police did not seem like heroes in our community; they seemed like people tearing families apart. Part of my personality—and also my training as an organizer—is to say, ‘If there’s a problem, there’s a way to fight it.’ There is a deep, unresolved issue with law enforcement. I want to be a part of solving it.”

Her proudest moment: “Seeing children shout out, ‘My life matters.’ I wish I knew that when I was young. This movement allows children to flourish.”

What she’s tackling now: “There’s a misconception in L.A. that everything’s OK. That we had our riots—our Ferguson moment—and everything is fine now. Black people in L.A. are largely neglected. We need community pressure.”