The official Black Lives Matter organization is reportedly floating on approximately $60 million – but has no senior executive to account for the nonprofit's vast fortune, according to two individuals previously offered leadership positions in the group.
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors stepped down from her role as executive director of the activist group’s central foundation last year amid questions about her finances. Cullors was questioned intensely on a series of real estate investments and property purchases, leading to criticism for her perceived opulence while claiming to be a "trained Marxist." After Cullors' resignation, BLM informed the media that two new leaders would hold co-executive positions of leadership moving forward – a plan that never materialized.
"Although a media advisory was released indicating that we were tapped to play the role of Senior Co-Executives at BLMGNF, we were not able to come to an agreement with the acting Leadership Council about the scope of our work and authority," wrote Makani Themba, one of the announced executives who never actually stepped into office. The statement alleged to also represent Monifa Bandele, the other proposed BLM senior executive.
"As a result, we did not have the opportunity to serve in this capacity. We wanted to be sure to inform our community of this fact as we move on to serve our movement in other ways," Themba wrote.
Most curious, neither Themba nor Bandele know who is currently at the helm of the organization, according to an investigation by the Washington Examiner. While control of the organization ultimately rests with its board of directors, the management and use of funds is the responsibility of the executive director, according to BLM bylaws. With no one known to occupy the office at present, the group's finances are seemingly without oversight.
"Like a giant ghost ship full of treasure drifting in the night with no captain, no discernible crew, and no clear direction," CharityWatch Executive Director Laurie Styron told the Examiner.
"Irrespective of where any person falls on the political spectrum or what their position is on any social justice issue, hopefully, we can all agree that tax-subsidized public charities have an ethical responsibility to be transparent with the public about how they are operating and how the donations they receive are being used," Styron added during the interview. "The amount of money involved here is not insignificant."
Cullors, 37, told the Associated Press at the time that she was leaving the position to focus on other projects, including the release of her second book and a television deal with Warner Bros. She held the top post at Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation for more than five years.
The activist said she had created "the necessary bones and foundation" at the organization and felt the "time is right" to leave. She asserted that her exit was planned for more than a year and was unrelated to scrutiny regarding her personal finances.
Cullors' finances drew attention in April after the New York Post reported she had purchased four homes for $3.2 million. The report prompted Hawk Newsome, the head of Black Lives Matter Greater New York City, to call for an "independent investigation" into the foundation’s finances. The two organizations are not affiliated.
"Those were right-wing attacks that tried to discredit my character, and I don’t operate off of what the right thinks of me," Cullors said.
Critics have pointed out that Cullors bought the high-end homes despite referring to herself as a "trained Marxist" in the past.