Black Lives Matter nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for carrying forward 'a movement of racial justice'

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Grace Hauck, USA TODAY
·4 min read
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Black Lives Matter has been nominated for a 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

Norwegian member of parliament Petter Eide said he nominated the organization because it is "bringing forward a new consciousness and awareness about racial justice."

"To carry forward a movement of racial justice and to spread that to other countries is very, very important. Black Lives Matter is the strongest force today doing this, not only in the U.S. but also in Europe and in Asia," Eide told USA TODAY on Saturday.

Eide said Black Lives Matter carries forward the legacy of earlier racial justice movements, such as the civil rights movement in the U.S. and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela won the prize in 1960 and 1993, respectively, for their campaigns against racial discrimination in South Africa.

"For the Nobel Prize Committee, this is not unusual to link a fight for (racial) justice, to link that with peace," Eide said. "There will be no peace without justice."

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Eide said the nomination "is not a comment on domestic American politics." Eide said he woke up Saturday morning to an email inbox "full of very angry Americans" who wrote to Eide saying Black Lives Matter is not a peaceful organization. Edie said he was "prepared for that critique."

"If we go 50 years back, those arguments also came up when Dr. Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 – exactly the same arguments. And when twice the (African National Congress) leaders of South Africa received the Nobel Peace Prize, there were also incidents of violence. But you can’t use that as a counter-argument to say Mandela was not working for justice or peace."

Eide is a member of Norway's Socialist Left Party and the former Secretary General of the Norwegian branch of Amnesty International. He has previously nominated human rights activists from Russia and China for the prize.

"We hold the largest social movement in global history. Today, we have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize," Black Lives Matter wrote on Twitter Friday. "People are waking up to our global call: for racial justice and an end to economic injustice, environmental racism, and white supremacy. We're only getting started (raised fist)."

Thousands of protesters gathered peacefully on 11th street in front of the State Capitol while chanting Black Lives Matter and justice on June 7, 2020 in Austin.
Thousands of protesters gathered peacefully on 11th street in front of the State Capitol while chanting Black Lives Matter and justice on June 7, 2020 in Austin.

Under Nobel Peace Prize rules, any member of a national assembly or a head of state can submit a nomination. Monday is the deadline for submission, and the five-person Norwegian Nobel Committee is expected to draft a short list in March.

"It’s a long shot to see them receive the prize, but it’s quite important that we spark this discussion. That’s a contribution in itself," Eide said.

Meanwhile, a member of the Norwegian Parliament's far-right Progress Party nominated former President Donald Trump for a second time. Last year, Christian Tybring-Gjedde nominated the then-president for his efforts in the Middle East. The United Nations' World Food Program won the prize for its work to combat hunger and food insecurity around the globe, beating out more than 300 candidates.

Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi founded the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013 after George Zimmerman's acquittal for shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Thousands of protests affiliated with the movement erupted around the world last year in the wake of a series of killings of Black Americans.

According to a report by the U.S. Crisis Monitor, a joint effort including Princeton University that collects and analyzes real-time data on demonstrations and political violence in the U.S., demonstrators did not engage in violence or destructive activity in more than 93% of the more than 7,750 demonstrations across thousands of locations in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., between May 26,the day after the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, and late August.

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Separately, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation won Sweden's annual Olof Palme human rights prize for 2020, according to a release Friday. The prize is awarded by a fund established by the Swedish Social Democratic Party and the family of Olof Palme, a former prime minister of Sweden who was assassinated.

"Black Lives Matter had its great national and international breakthrough in the summer of 2020, in connection with a number of cases of extreme brutality," the Olof Palme Memorial Fund for International Understanding and Common Security said.

"In the United States alone, an estimated twenty million people have taken part in Black Lives Matter protests, and millions more have made their voices heard all over the world. This illustrates that racism and racist violence is not just a problem in American society, but a global problem, including Sweden."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Black Lives Matter nominated for Nobel Peace Prize by Norwegian MP