A co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has denied allegations she or other members of BLM leadership misused millions of dollars in donations. In a recent interview, Patrisse Cullors offered insights into the growing pains of an organization that quickly transformed from an idea to a global brand.
“On paper, it looks crazy,” Cullors said. “We use this term in our movement a lot, which is we’re building the plane while flying it. I don’t believe in that anymore. The only regret I have with BLM is wishing that we could have paused for one to two years, to just not do any work and just focus on the infrastructure.”
The 38-year-old author and artist adamantly denied accusations that she had personally benefited in the six years she guided the BLM foundation, including media reports that she had purchased homes for herself and members of her family.
Just over a year ago, the foundation announced a $90 million fundraising haul. That announcement drew sharp criticisms over access to donor funds, as well as broader calls for openness from activists in several local BLM chapters and from the families of police brutality victims who had rallied to support the movement.
More recent disclosures show the foundation had paid $6 million for a Los Angeles compound in 2020, unleashing a torrent of social media chatter. Cullors defended the purchase.
“We really wanted to make sure that the global network foundation had an asset that wasn’t just financial resources,” she said, “and we understood that not many Black-led organizations have property. They don’t own their property.”
Cullors said she had made mistakes and even some regrettable choices that haven’t fostered trust. She acknowledged she had used the BLM property twice for personal purposes.
The foundation confirmed it had billed her for using BLM property, and it said it was reviewing its policies to prevent such uses in the future.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.