Bree Newsome, “The flag was a symbol of oppression not oppression itself.”
For those of you who don’t know Bree Newsome is an filmmaker, musician, speaker, and an activist for human rights. On June 27th, 2015, she was arrested scaling the South Carolina Statehouse flagpole to take down the confederate flag that flew there for over 50 years. This was an act against the oppression of black people as well as it was a stand for all human rights. Soon after the arrest pictures and images of her scaling the pole circulated through social media and in turn has become a symbol for something much larger. She has been involved in activisim within her local community for many years dedicating her life and time to stand up for what she so fervently feels is right.
This past Wednesday, August 31st, she came to speak in Woodruff auditorium here on KU campus about her involvement as an activist for the black community. She first starting talking by placing emphasis on remembering our past from African roots of slavery to the present day. She explained how rights were never given, they were demanded because all humans should have equal rights. As she progressed through her speech, I couldn’t help but notice her audience really engage with her. She was an easy conversationalist and really open to explain everything. Even delving into what the #blacklivesmatter tag means to her.
Bree Newsome seemed shocked to receive the reaction she did and how she is now able to travel around talking to other schools and organizations about the movement and her role in fighting for black civil rights. It’s obvious though how she stands out as a leader and inspiration from just seeing the reactions on the audiences faces. The interviews from audience members I received reflected this as well. I even had the opportunity to talk to Bree Newsome herself after the speech. She gave me some advice to anyone who looks to get involved by saying one must “Act locally to affect true change.”