By David Lambert
When Marti, my wife, and I lived at our former residence in Tacoma, Washington, our long-time neighbor then, Juli, founded and put out the first Black Lives Matter Calendar in 2015. This year’s calendar marks the 7th year of its publication.
As Juli points out on the inside cover of the 2021 BLM edition, “Distraught by so many police and citizen shootings of Black people, Juli decided in 2014 to design the calendar as Christmas gifts for her multiracial family and was helped in the initial research by her granddaughter, Ce’lene Floyd.” Then Juli asked John Leach, then recently retired photographer from a printing business, to layout and print the project.
This initial 2015 calendar was well received by the community and successfully sold as a fundraiser; Juli and John decided to continue this project annually, “providing the calendar at a low cost to others to sell for fundraising purposes. Ce’lene Floyd designed our new interactive webpage that allows you to order and pay on line.”
It was also around the time of the founding of this calendar that Marti and I attended an annual MLK Redeeming the Prophetic Vision Interfaith Community Service in Tacoma in which Dr. Dexter Gordon, an University of Puget Sound professor, gave the feature presentation on many of the tragically numerous Black individuals that had been killed by police up to that point. A major focus of this presentation during that event, of course, was to pay honor and tribute, and not forget the people who have died from police involvement. Several years after this event, Marti and I joined The Conversation, a racial justice weekly discussion group that Dr. Gordon established in the early part of the 2000s. Marti and I have also been FOR members for many years, and have, with many other FOR members, worked to teach ourselves an anti-racist approach to our Western Washington FOR and Tacoma FOR work. It was Marti’s idea to buy and distribute a number of these BLM calendars this year.
I want to add a bit about what Juli included in her calendar. For her research, she used the “Washington Post Fatal Force website that registers officer-involved shooting homicides.” It does not include deaths by other means nor does it include killings by off duty officers. Juli has meticulously researched and documented when each individual killed, if they experienced mental illness, were a child, disabled, etc.
Most days of the calendar year there is at least one person who was killed and most often two to five or more people. We applaud the ongoing diligence and commitment Julie and John have made to this work to both acknowledge and remember the Black people who have died so needlessly and tragically, and to help motivate so many of us to work harder for justice on behalf of those who are no longer here and for their families and friends and community.
Finally, Juli adds a number of actions a person could involve themself in such as becoming familiar and/or involved with Coalition Against Police Violence, Color of Change, Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), and getting involved with a local chapter, if one exists, of Black Lives Matter. She also mentions that one can work to get better training for police officers, march, demonstrate, if you are able, and Vote.