Activist and Author Bree Newsome to Speak at UCR
By Tess Eyrich
Newsome, who famously climbed a South Carolina flagpole to remove the Confederate flag, will share her experience as an advocate for racial equality
In June 2015, Bree Newsome drew national attention to South Carolina when she scaled a 30-foot flagpole outside the state capitol building and unhooked its Confederate flag as an act of civil disobedience against what she perceived as “racist symbolism.”
On Oct. 18, Newsome will speak about the experience and her work as a community organizer and activist during a lecture at the University of California, Riverside titled “Tearing Hatred From the Sky.” Sponsored by UCR’s Women’s Resource Center, the event will take place at 7 p.m. in Room 302 of the Highlander Union Building (HUB).
Denise Davis, director of the Women’s Resource Center, said Newsome’s talk will draw connections between a variety of historic milestones — including the 1960s heyday of the civil rights movement — and contemporary activism designed to combat systemic racism and other forms of social inequality.
“Bree is sure to be an inspiring speaker who can comment on both her lived experience as a black woman and how her personal piece of activism fits into our moment’s continuation of the civil rights movement,” Davis said. “I’m also hoping that she’ll be able to offer some advice as to where we go from here.”
Newsome’s highly visible act of protest, committed June 27, 2015, came just one day after President Barack Obama delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Clementa Pinckney, a black pastor and South Carolina state senator who had been killed weeks earlier during a mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
“Five days before the action, we huddled in a small living room. What united us was a moral calling and a commitment to doing the right thing, recognizing the power we had as individuals coming together to act as one,” Newsome wrote in an August 2017 op-ed published by The Washington Post.
“With awareness of history and belief in a better future, we decided to attack a symbol of systemic racism with a direct action that symbolized its dismantling. We almost immediately settled on removing the flag, both as an act of civil disobedience and as a demonstration of the power people have when we work together.”
South Carolina’s Senate voted to officially remove the flag from the capitol’s grounds on July 6, 2015. In the wake of the event, Newsome became a prolific author and commentator, regularly sharing her perspectives on newsworthy happenings such as the recent debates over the removal of Confederate monuments across the country and the impact of Colin Kaepernick’s ongoing protests during the NFL national anthem.
Newsome’s upcoming talk at UCR is free and open to the public, and registration is not required to attend. The event’s supporting sponsors include the Center for Ideas & Society, the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.