Activist and performance artist Bree Newsome returns to the South Carolina State House this afternoon to deliver the remarks for the opening ceremony for Every Black Girl Inc.’s 2018 National Conference.
On June 27, 2015, nine days after Dylan Roof murdered nine people at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel Chruch, Newsome geared up and climbed a 30-ft flagpole to tear down the Confederate flag that flew directly in front of the South Carolina State House.
The flag had long been controversial. Tens of thousands of people protested for its removal from the top of the State House in 2000, only to see it moved front and center, facing Columbia’s downtown district.
But on that June morning, Newsome, a North Carolina-native, grabbed the flag and over the sounds of police officers ordering her down, she shouted, “In the name of Jesus, this flag has to come down. You come against me with hatred and oppression and violence. I come against you in the name of God. This flag comes down today.”
It was powerful performance art. She came down and was arrested, and the flag went back up. But, its days were numbered. A massive Fourth of July protest to bring it down for good and a tense political battle followed; but by July 10, the Confederate flag, to many a symbol of white supremacy and racial hatred, was finally removed from our state house grounds.
Newsome was an international sensation following her protest, and for the last three years, colleges and organizations invited her to speak about encouraging bravery in artistic expression and staying committed to social justice. She also speaks truth to power around the clock on social media with an army of Twitter followers who engage in provocative conversations about black power and racial equality in America. They take head-on the constant stream of injustices and police abuse impacting black Americans, including the most recent shooting of Stephon Clark.
So, it’s no surprise that Vivian Anderson, who founded Every Black Girl Inc. in the wake of the violent arrest of a young black girl at Spring Valley High School in the fall of 2015 here in SC, would invite Bree Newsome to open the weekend-long conversation about power, safety, justice, and courage with black women and girls in South Carolina.
Bree Newsome will speak at the statehouse grounds at 5pm today, and you can register for other events and panels at Every Black Girl Inc.’s National Conference, including speaking events with #metoo founder Tarana Burke, Girls for Gender Equity’s Joanna Smith, Young Democrats for South Carolina’s Bre Maxwell, and activist, poet, and founder of Love on Purpose, Tammaka Staley.