Civil rights activist visits UNC Charlotte to speak about importance of education in civil rights
The Black Student Union (BSU) invited civil rights activist and Charlotte native Bree Newsome to speak to students in the Student Union Movie Theater Tuesday.
Newsome is most recognized for her act of civil disobedience when she and a fellow activist removed the confederate flag atop a 30-foot flag pole at South Carolina’s state capital. Once she was back on the ground, Newsome was arrested.
The night began with the two hosts, who were both members of BSU, asking Newsome questions about her experiences removing the flag and how her life has changed because of it.
The massacre involving the death of nine church-goers at a church in Charleston, SC was the ignition for Newsome and her fellow activists to take action. Within a few days, they decided on a plan to remove the flag from the state capital. Newsome agreed to be the one to remove the flag, even though she had no experience with climbing.
Although it took only 45 minutes for the flag to be returned, Newsome’s actions that day exploded on social media and launched her onto the national spotlight. She emphasized that she did not remove the flag for fame or recognition, she removed it because she was deeply affected by the tragedy and knew that something needed to be done.
“Going up was much more scary and precarious, I had gone into that action kind of expecting to be arrested so that wasn’t so much of a fear. Once I got the flag and was making my way down the police were just waiting for me to come down myself,” said Newsome. “There was really just like a sense of accomplishment in that we had done what we came there to do.”
The last question the hosts asked Newsome was “What advice do you have for the next generation?”
Newsome responded saying that the power was in their hands. “Recognize that you really are the leaders of today,” said Newsome.
While Newsome answered questions from the two hosts, audience members could submit their own questions to be answered via Twitter, using the hashtag #UNCCAskBree. Once the hosts had asked all their questions, the event shifted over to questions from the audience.
Throughout her time of answering questions from the hosts and from the audience, Newsome centered her responses around the importance of a proper education in our country.
“I think that education is so crucial, I don’t think you can overstate the importance of education. Education is one of the key things to liberation,” said Newsome.
She also talked about how the confederate flag was originally made as a symbol for slavery and racism. It was used as a sign of slavery when the southern states seceded during the civil war. Since then, it has been a symbol of many white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
However, that meaning has been lost over time due to improper education. Newsome feels that the fact that such a question still needs to be discussed in 2015 is because of inaccurate education.
Newsome continues to promote and organize events in the local Charlotte area. She will be participating in the People’s Power Assembly Oct. 29. It is an open forum to discuss different issues affecting the community. It will be held in the West Charlotte Recreational Center and is free to attend.