Bell, Shamell

Co-founder, Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles chapter





Field Value
ID 94
Title An oral history with Shamell Bell
Date 2016-11-18
OH ID OH 5950
Citation Shamell Bell interviewed by Carie Rael, November 18, 2016, Los Angeles, California, Oral History #5950, transcript, Women Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage, Center for Oral and Public History, California State University, Fullerton.
Restricted false
Created At 2017-07-30 19:18:19 UTC
Location Los Angeles, CA
Language English
Subjects Family → Childhood Experiences
Family → Grandparents
Family → Family Histories and Traditions
Family → Divorce → Single Parent Home
Law and Public Policy → Welfare
Activism → Anti-poverty
Family → Siblings
Entertainment and Culture
Health, Medicine, and Awareness → Mental Health
Race Relations
Race Relations → Black-White Race Relations
Education → Early Childhood Education
Education → Higher Education
Colleges → University of Southern California (USC)
Religion → Christianity
African American → People → Trayvon Martin
Direct Action → Marches
Gender and Sexuality → Gender Roles
Family → Parenting → Motherhood
Family → Childhood Experiences → children of immigrants or refugees
Religion → Spirituality
African American → Organizations → Black Women's Health Project
Gender and Sexuality → Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) - should this be under 'Health, Medicine, Awareness' ?
Health, Medicine, and Awareness
Activism → Anti-Police Brutality Activism
Racial Inequality
African American → People → Martin Luther King, Jr.
African American → People → Malcolm x
Colleges → University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
Police and Law Enforcement → Community Relations and Law Enforcement
African American → Organizations → Black Lives Matter
African American → People → Melina Abdullah
Police and Law Enforcement → Police Department → Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)
Activism → Dance Activism
Locations → South Los Angeles/South Central Los Angeles


An oral history of Shamell Bell, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles Chapter [BLM-LA]. The interview was conducted for the Women, Politics and Activism Since Suffrage Oral History Project for California State University, Fullerton’s Center for Oral and Public History. Specifically, this interview addresses Bell’s family history, including mother’s early childhood in Mississippi, her own childhood in South Los Angeles and Inglewood; briefly mentions performing in music videos and beauty pageants; recalls moving to Georgia briefly, where she discovered and understood issues of race and class; compares experiences of racism in Los Angeles and Georgia; details economic and structural racism in Los Angeles and uses her early education as an example; discusses her early relationship with the entertainment industry; talks about high school years, path towards college, and attending Spelman College and facing discrimination; explains personal health challenges, including three times she almost died; talks about her relationship with Dr. Melina Abdullah and the impact of planning the Justice for Trayvon Martin March in Los Angeles; discusses her original role at meetings for BLM-LA and meeting [Trayvon Martin’s mom] Sybrina Fulton at the Justice or Else March; explains community organizing after the George Zimmerman verdict and the subsequent Trayvon Martin walk; expresses importance of sharing the stories of founding members of BLM-LA; further discusses her early life and survival mode, her relationship with her mother, and growing up with families outside of her immediate; forming relationships with other women of BLM-LA; addresses the internal division in BLM; challenges of social media; talks in depth about dance activism, and cites recent examples from Occupy LAPD and Occupy LA Mayor; shares family’s response to her activism; recalls a story involving her son and his understanding of race, class, and the prison system; provides advice to individuals wanting to get involved in activism; states she is most proud of her son; explains the importance of letting individuals tell their stories; and finally, recalls how Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley became her mentor and assisted with her educational journey.


Field Value
File Name 5950_P01.jpg
Content Type image/jpeg
Size 1050947
Description> Shamell Bell, 2016.