Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors Helps Launch #PrayforLA To Honor Deaths From COVID-19

LOS ANGELES (RNS) – Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, encourages people to share photos, artwork, a prayer or meditation for loved ones lost to COVID-19, even as the virus continues to spread and hospital beds across Los Angeles fills Angeles County.

It’s part of a new project called #PrayforLA, developed by a Cullors artist collective co-founded with Alexandre Dorriz and Noé Olivas, that aims to empower and honor people dying of COVID-19 in LA County. The collective turned a former Crenshaw Dairy Mart in Inglewood into a gallery and educational space that serves as both headquarters and an event space.

Cullors encourages attendees to use the hashtag #PrayforLA along with the photos and graphics they share on social media. She announced the initiative on Saturday (Jan. 2) in an Instagram video, saying she was rocked by the people around her who were affected by or died from the coronavirus.

As of January 3, a total of 818,639 COVID-19 cases had been reported and 10,773 people had died from the coronavirus in LA County. More than 12,400 new cases were reported on January 3.

“Why don’t we make sure that black and brown communities don’t die from this disease as we do?” Cullors said. “I urge people around the world to pray for LA. You have to pray to your gods and goddesses. “

“You have to show up,” she added.

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With LA County’s Latino and Black residents disproportionately affected by COVID-19, Cullors said the county and state government should do more to help their residents by canceling rent and providing them with money during the pandemic put. She criticized a health system for which she said “was not adequate before COVID and we are all sure it is not adequate now.”

Patrisse Cullors poses for a portrait during the Sundance Film Festival, Sunday, January 27, 2019, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell / Invision / AP)

The Crenshaw Dairy Mart team aims to engage the community through three pillars, according to its website: Descent, Abolition, and Healing.

In an interview with Artsy, Cullors said the gallery space is “an extension of our spiritual and political values, and we value human life, each other, our ancestors and the end of the cage. You will see these as our three pillars: healing, lineage, and abolition. These are the things that we value and that will be the focus of our work. “

Cullors, who has described Black Lives Matter as a spiritual movement, said the collective wants to open the parking lot for people who want to “come in their mother tongue and pray in their religion”

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The drive-in event would include people of all faiths, including atheists, who can offer meditation, she said. A date for such a gathering was not announced, but Cullors envisioned people bringing candles, prayer beads, mats, and altar items. She said more must be done to remember this moment and the “people who will be sacrificed because of this disease.”

“We need all faiths to unite now,” said Cullors. “We’re in a crisis where it’s really about bringing in the spirit of our ancestors, something bigger than us.”

“Let’s pray for our church,” she said.

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