We see to build a Black and Brown led abolitionist movement rooted in community power towards the goal of achieving transformative justice and healing justice for all incarcerated people, their families and communities.
LOS ANGELES, CA – EIN 463064675 dignityandpowernow.org
Dignity and Power Now (DPN) is a Los Angeles based grassroots organization founded in 2012 that fights for the dignity and power of all incarcerated people, their families, and communities. Our mission is to build a Black and Brown led abolitionist movement rooted in community power towards the goal of achieving transformative justice and healing justice for all incarcerated people, their families, and communities.
Grounded in the principles of abolition, healing justice, and transformative justice, we have multiple programs centered around activism, health and wellness, and leadership building, including a coalition to end sheriff violence, a coalition to stop jail construction, an arts and wellness collective, a rapid response team of healers, a leadership institute for high school aged youth affected by incarceration, a leadership institute for people coming home from prison, a reentry program inside Soledad State Prison, and an influential media department. Immediate campaign focuses include establishing comprehensive and effective civilian oversight of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and allocating the money from LA County’s 3.5 billion dollar jail plan into mental health diversion programs and community resources. Dignity and Power Now is founded and chaired by Black Lives Matter Cofounder Patrisse Khan-Cullors.
American artist and activist
Patrisse Marie Khan-Cullors Brignac (néeCullors-Brignac; born June 20, 1983) is an American activist, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, artist and writer. Cullors created the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag in 2013 and has written and spoken widely about the movement. Other topics on which Cullors advocates include prison abolition in Los Angeles and LGBTQ rights. Cullors integrates ideas from critical theory, as well as social movements around the world, in her activism. She is the author of When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.
Cullors was born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother Cherice Foley is a Jehovah's Witness. Her biological father was Gabriel Brignac, whom she didn't meet until she was eleven years old. She was raised in the home of Alton Cullors, who used to work at a General Motors plant in Van Nuys before it was shut down, forcing him to work in low-paying jobs. She has three siblings — two brothers named Paul and Monte, and a sister named Jasmine. Gabriel was a repeat offender who was jailed many times on drugs-related charges and died in 2009 in a homeless shelter. Cullors described him as having a constant and caring presence in her life.
Cullors grew up in a Section 8 apartment in Van Nuys, a poor and largely Mexican-American neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. Her step-father Alton eventually left his family, leaving Cherice to raise her kids on her own. Cullors said that she witnessed her 11 and 13 year-old brothers being needlessly slammed into a wall by police when she was 9 years old. At the age of 12, she was arrested for smoking marijuana. At this time, she was a student at Millikan Middle School, an affluent mostly-white school for gifted kids in Sherman Oaks. Cullors describes that she felt ashamed going there with her mother in a car, borrowed from their neighbor and Monte's on-and-off girlfriend Cynthia, since it was in a state of disrepair. She also states that it was the white girls at the school who introduced her to weed. However, when she was arrested, she was attending the Van Nuys Middle School, a school consisting mostly of children of working-class families and non-whites, as part of summer school, due to her poor grades. For her, the transition was a shock, as the school had a metal detector and was guarded by police unlike her other school.
Cullors recalls being forced from her home at sixteen when she revealed her queer identity to her parents. Raised as a Jehovah's Witness, but due to her mother's teenage pregnancy, Cullors immediate family was shunned by both the church and their extended family members; she remained committed to the faith for years, even in exile, but later grew disillusioned with the church. She developed an interest in the Nigerian religious tradition of Ifá, incorporating its rituals into political protest events. She told an interviewer in 2015 that "seeking spirituality had a lot to do with trying to seek understanding about my conditions—how these conditions shape me in my everyday life and how I understand them as part of a larger fight, a fight for my life."
Cullors and her BLM co-founders Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, set out to build a decentralized movement governed by consensus of a members' collective and in 2015, a network of chapters were formed. Cullors, has been the most publicly visible of the co-founders, especially after Garza and Tometi stepped back from regular involvement in the organisation. She credits social media being instrumental in revealing violence against African Americans, saying: "On a daily basis, every moment, black folks are being bombarded with images of our death ... It's literally saying, 'Black people, you might be next. You will be next, but in hindsight it will be better for our nation, the less of our kind, the more safe it will be."
In May 2021 (after holding the position for six years which included setting up the organisation's infrastructure) Cullors resigned from her formal role as executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, to focus on her second book and a multi-year TV deal with Warner Bros. She said that her resignation had nothing to do with attempts to discredit her and that it had been planned for over a year. Cullors said "I think I will probably be less visible, because I won't be at the helm of one of the largest, most controversial organizations right now in the history of our movement...But no movement is one leader."
Cullors defines herself as a prison, police and "militarization" abolitionist, a position she says is inspired by "a legacy of black-led anti-colonial struggle in the United States and throughout the Americas". She also favors reparations for what she describes as "the historical pains and damage caused by European settler colonialism", in various forms, such "financial restitution, land redistribution, political self-determination, culturally relevant education programs, language recuperation, and the right to return (or repatriation)".
She cites the activist and formerly incarcerated Weather Underground member Eric Mann, as her mentor during her early activist years at the Bus Riders Union of Los Angeles. She draws on various ideological inspirations. One is black feminists such as Audre Lorde and her "Black, queer, feminist lens", as well as bell hooks : both "helped [her] understand [her] identity". She cites Angela Davis for her "political theories and reflections on anticapitalist movements around the world", her work towards "a broader antiracist and antiwar movement", and her fight against white supremacy in the US. Frantz Fanon is another inspiration, his "work on colonial violence in Algeria and across the Third World [making] timely connections" for the understanding of the context in which Black people live across the world. She also cites Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong, as "provid[ing] a new understanding around what our economies could look like".
Asked whether she believed in violence as a method of protest, she has said that she believes in "direct action, but nonviolent direct action", and that this was also the belief of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In 2014 Cullors produced the theatrical piece POWER: From the Mouths of the Occupied, which debuted at Highways Performance Space. She has contributed articles about the movement to the LA Progressive, including an article from December 2015 titled "The Future of Black Life" which pushed the idea that activists could no longer wait for the State to take action, and called her followers into action by encouraging them to begin building the world that they want to see.
Cullors' memoir, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir was published in January 2018. It was co-written with the journalist  and featured a foreword from Angela Davis. The book has two parts, All the Bones We Could Find, which narrates her adolescence, and Black Lives Matter, which explains how those experiences led up to her to co-establishing the social justice group. The book deals with the imprisonment and disenfranchisement of black men like her father, incarceration "is how our society responded to his drug use...I think we have a crisis of divesting from poor communities, black communities in particular, and reinvesting into these communities with police, jails, courts, prisons". In the 13th chapter A Call, A Response, Cullors outlines the first series of marches she, Garza and Tometi organized in the wake of Zimmerman's acquittal. The chapter concludes: "We are a generation called to action." The Times Literary Supplement regarded the book as a "magnificent accomplishment." It appeared at number 12 on the nonfiction hardcoverThe New York Times Best Seller list on February 4, 2018.
Her second book is set to be released by St Martin's Press on the 5th October 2021, titled An Abolitionists Handbook, Cullors describes it as a guide for activists on how to take care for each other and resolve internal conflicts while campaigning.
Documentary and television/film
Cullors appeared in the 2016 documentary Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement. In October 2020 she signed her first 'overall deal' with Warner Brothers, a multi-year agreement that will see Cullors develop and produce original programming across all platforms, including broadcast, cable and streaming, aimed at amplifying Black Lives Matter, black storytelling, and black perspectives. Cullors produced the YouTube Originals series Resist, which premiered November 18, 2020.
In 2021, a controversy arose in some media outlets, following reports that Cullors (or entities associated with her) had purchased several homes during a five year period. This led to a denial of any wrongdoing and accusations of racism, with Cullors defending her actions as an effort to take care of her family and describing the criticism as a right-wing effort to discredit her. On April 13, The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation denied it had paid for her purchases of real estate and said they had not paid her since 2019, adding that she had only received $120,000 since 2013 for carrying out her work related to the organization.
In June 2020, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first LGBTQ Pride parade, Queerty named her among the fifty heroes "leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people".
LOS ANGELES, CA 90007-4316 | Tax-exempt since July 2014
Classification (NTEE) Public Foundations (Philanthropy, Voluntarism and Grantmaking Foundations)
Nonprofit Tax Code Designation: 501(c)(3) Defined as: Organizations for any of the following purposes: religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition (as long as it doesn’t provide athletic facilities or equipment), or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
Donations to this organization are tax deductible.
CCBF pays bond for people charged with crimes in Cook County, Illinois. Through a revolving fund, CCBF supports individuals whose communities cannot afford to pay the bonds themselves and who have been impacted by structural violence.
NPAP, a project of the National Lawyers Guild, was founded with the intent of helping to end police abuse of authority and to provide support for grassroots and victims’ organizations combating police misconduct.