Days after 30-year-old community organizer Brittany ‘Bree’ Newsome scaled a 30-foot pole to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds, the nation is still invigorated by her fearless and powerful action.
Now the North Carolina native, musician, and activist is speaking out about why she decided to take actions into her own hands, how the act of civil disobedience materialized, and what the act itself means for what is arguably the largest Black liberation movement in recent history.
Newsome’s concise but profound reasoning behind the removal of the historic symbol of racial oppression in America?
“I did it because I am free,” she wrote.
In a statement exclusively released to Goldie Taylor and posted to Blue Nation Review, Newsome said that the act of defiance (which came to be against a backdrop of violence and disenfranchisement of Black communities) was not only done for her enslaved ancestors, but also “in defiance of the oppression that continues against Black people globally in 2015.” Citing numerous examples of the terror Black people have endured in the past three years (spanning from the gutting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Trayvon Martin’s death, Ferguson protests, and the Charleston AME massacre), Newsome wrote that she refused to be ruled by fear and a system of “White supremacy [that] has dominated the politics of America resulting in the creation of racist laws and cultural practices designed to subjugate non-Whites.”
And on the hurtful past the Confederate flag dredges up?
“The emblem of the Confederacy, the stars and bars, in all its manifestations, has long been the most recognizable banner of this political ideology,” she wrote. “It’s the banner of racial intimidation and fear whose popularity experiences an uptick whenever Black Americans appear to be making gains economically and politically in this country.”
It had to come down.
Newsome, who was arrested along with ally James Ian Tyson, faces criminal charges for the act of civil disobedience. South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford has agreed to represent Newsome and Tyson.
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