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Former Obama Organizer Wants To Recruit "Black Lives Matter" Activists

"I remember during Ferguson there were all these marchers who made it clear the movement was about more then just mourning the loss of a black life, but about proclaiming the value of one. The next step should be to think about the policymaking that affects black lives and values them, too."

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WASHINGTON — Kouri Marshall was named executive director of Democratic GAIN, a progressive recruiting initiative earlier this month. One of his top priorities: recruiting talent within the labyrinth of organizers and movements sprouting from Black Lives Matter.

Marshall, 32, and the former District of Columbia Director for President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, said every Democratic campaigns and policy group should pay attention to the principals behind the movement protesting racism and police brutality, or risk losing the chance to "seriously strengthen Democratic values."

Marshall said part of his mission as Democratic GAIN's executive director will be to create a pipeline for talent of the social media-driven protest movements to staff campaigns and organizations — especially ones seeking to reach black voters.

"There's a lot of progressive campaigns and organizations that said they have not been able to find diverse talent," he said, adding there are about 15 to 20 organizers on an informal short list whose skill and audience make them ideal candidates for political work.

"If I were a presidential candidate I'd be trying to hire some of them," he said. "Someone needs to get behind them."

The electorate may be soon taking its cues from the movement, Marshall said.

"These young people are going to need places to work," he said. "They're going to need resources and ways to harness that considerable talent."

Democratic GAIN held a career fair on June 16. A representative said officials from every political campaign was in attendance.

"I remember during Ferguson there were all these marchers who made it clear the movement was about more than just mourning the loss of a black life, but about proclaiming the value of one," Marshall said. "The next step should be to think about the policymaking that affects black lives and values them, too."

Darren Sands is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Darren Sands at darren.sands@buzzfeed.com.

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