Must read: Essence interview with Bree Newsome, who took down South Carolina’s Confederate flag. Like King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Newsome’s sacramental action incarnates an energy of creative change far beyond itself.
On June 27, ten days after alleged White supremacist Dylann Roof massacred nine Black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, Brittany “Bree” Newsome, a filmmaker, hoisted herself up a 30-foot-high steel pole outside the South Carolina statehouse, unhooked the Confederate flag and carried it down. Newsome’s defiant act in the face of terrorism and racist hatred was part of an organized effort among a small group of protestors called The Tribe. ESSENCE spoke to Newsome about what’s next for her in the movement.
ESSENCE: First, how did you learn how to scale a pole?
BREE NEWSOME: An activist named Heather flew down from New York to train me. We went to a park and practiced on lampposts, basketball hoops, and then I got to practice on one flagpole. The very first attempt I made…I was just completely winded, thinking, I don’t know how I can climb 30 feet. Once I got the rhythm of it, it was fine. It’s actually more leg strength than arm strength.
ESSENCE: What was going through your mind as you were ascending to the flag?
NEWSOME: I was just so focused, because otherwise it would have been really easy to psyche myself out. When we were training, we practiced popping out of the car and climbing up…and just really focusing on the task at hand.
ESSENCE: Why was it so important for a Black woman to be the one to take down the flag?
Read the whole interview here.