Bree Newsome is the activist behind the brave removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house lawn last year. Reliving the planning and execution of this impactful demonstration, Newsome recalled that a group of about 12 activists of all different backgrounds came together to remove what was a controversial and salient reminder of racism and hatred that flew so unapologetically outside a building so representative of the state. With this brave collaboration, the flag was permanently removed from the space.
Although we all are familiar with her act of civil disobedience which demonstrated the demand for progress and separation of state and hate, Newsome social justice efforts also extend beyond that act of heroism.
A North Carolina native, Bree Newsome has exercised her passion for activism through marches such as Mass Moral Monday with the NAACP in North Carolina, to supporting the Dream Defenders, a group of youth protestors in Florida in support of Trayvon Martin after his tragic murder. Working at the grassroots level to enact change within communities and get people together, acting towards a common goal is something that Newsome believes is imperative for the progress of social justice as a whole.
She urged the audience to evaluate what it means to be conscious; a state of awareness that leads to a collective consciousness of shared understanding of reality. To achieve this state of collective consciousness, she believes that we need to work towards a framework which is not fragmented by socially constructed lines of difference, but works and drives toward equality for the oppressed of all groups, religions, and marginalized identities. She reminds the audience that change can be enacted at any level, and to make a difference, we must simply exercise our courage as a belief in something greater than the fear we may hold about taking action.
From her speech to her gracious and impactful responses to students in the question and answer portion of the program, Bree Newsome inspired the audience to fight for things bigger than themselves, and to drive forward to create changes that our society so desperately needs. Through methods such as sustainable organization in communities, to the creation of healing spaces for communities that have experienced traumatic events, Newsome left us with the tools to become activists in our own right.
This event was co-sponsored by Paul Robeson Cultural Center, Center for Women Studies and Presidential Leadership Academy.