Photos: Go Inside The Movement for Black Lives National Convening

By Words by Akiba Solomon. Photographs by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn. Jul 27, 2015

This past weekend hundreds converged on Cleveland* State University to attend what organizers have called the first major convening about the movement to stop police and extrajudicial violence against black people.

The Movement for Black Lives National Convening—hashtag M4BL—was sponsored by a number of local and national groups: Black Lives Matter, BYP100, Ferguson Action, Cleveland Action, Million Hoodies, Ohio Student Association, Organization for Black Struggle, Project South and Southerners on a New Ground. 

Most panels, plenaries and workshops centered on how to understand, react to, organize against and eliminate racialized police and extrajudicial violence. Family members of black people killed by state sanctioned violence were on hand to share their experiences; among them was Michael Brown Sr., Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, Amberly Carter, cousin of Emmett Till, Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s dad, and Martinez Sutton, brother of Rekia Boyd.

M4BL also included programming about intersecting issues including systemic racism, immigration HIV/AIDS, workers’ rights, reproductive justice, the 2016 presidential election and police divestment. How-tos aimed to teach participants self defense, first aid, self care and basic organizing. And M4BL had a robust roster of panels and workshops about LGBTQ survival, identity and culture.  

Award winning photographer Layalah Ammatullah Barrayn captured moments of joy and pain at the historic convening. See some of her work below. 


“Uncle Bobby,” uncle of Oscar Grant, who was murdered by a Bay Area transit cop, shares a word with Michael Brown, Sr., father of slain Ferguson teen, Michael Brown



Organizers stand in solidarity with the attendees. 



Mickyel Bradford, an Atlanta-based activist for transgender communities, sits for a portrait.



Moderators take notes in a workshop.



Martinez Sutton, brother of the slain Rekia Boyd, sits on a panel with Andrew Jospeh Sr., whose 14-year-old son Andrew Joseph III was struck by a car and killed when Florida officers ejected him from a state fair and abandoned him on the highway.



Sanyika Bryant leads a workshop on the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent.  



Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, remembers her son at the opening ceremony. 



Participants leave a local nightclub after a transman was ejected from the men’s bathroom and the establishment. They reorganized on the street and affirmed their commitment to each other with rallying chants. 



Amberly Carter, a cousin of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy who was killed in 1955 for allegedly flirting with a white woman. 



Melina Abdullah leads a workshop titled #BlackKidsLivesMatter: Revolutionary Parenting. 



Participants are energized at the opening ceremony. 


*Post has been updated to reflect that the convening took place at Cleveland State University, not Ohio State University.