Date of Award

Fall 2017

Document Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Occupational and Technical Studies

Committee Director

Karina Arcaute

Committee Director

John Ritz


The Black Lives Matter movement originated on social media after recent events that took place relating to the murders of unarmed Black men by civilian vigilantes or White policemen. This study examines the relevancy of the Black Lives Matter movement, while comparing it to the 1960s Civil Rights movement, specifically, concerning the differences in readily identifiable leadership. A Likert-scale survey was created to collect data from Old Dominion University students and affiliates who attended the event and students who were enrolled during the Spring 2016 semester, and distributed through the online survey platform Qualtrics.

Analysis of the survey responses showed that the majority of participants (27.43%) disagree that a singular identifiable leader is necessary. The majority of participants (34.16%) agree that a specific agenda needs to be better communicated. The majority of participants (26.88%) agreed that their perceptions of the movement changed with the knowledge that Black Lives Matter is being honored with a peace award. The majority of participants (33.13%) strongly agreed that images of violent protests contribute to their disinterests. The majority of participants (28.86%) strongly agreed that murders of unarmed African-Americans changed their thoughts concerning the necessity of social change and police reform. The majority of the participants (34.63%) strongly agree that Black Lives Matter is a polarizing phrase.

It was concluded that unlike the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, a singular identifiable leader is not necessary for the Black Lives Matter movement. Communicating the movement’s agenda is the shared responsibility of those interested in racial equality. Although Black Lives Matter is a phrase unintended to alienate other communities, a name change is necessary in order to eliminate the misconception that only Black lives matter. The Sydney Peace Foundation, founded in 1998, announced in April 2017 that it would award Black Lives Matter its 2017 Peace Prize. The award recognized the work of the founding leaders of the social justice activist network, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi.


A Research Paper Submitted to the Faculty of Old Dominion University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of MASTER OF SCIENCE OCCUPATIONAL AND TECHNICAL STUDIES