South Carolina residents and state officials are in a bitter debate over the Confederate flag. With protesters and lawmakers on the ground arguing over what the flag stands for and where it should fly, one woman decided to do something about it.
Activist, filmmaker, musician, and superhero-in-training Bree Newsome was tired of asking for the Confederate flag to come down.
On June 27, 2015, she scaled the 30-foot flagpole in front of the South Carolina State House and took the flag down herself.
While onlookers cheered, the police were waiting for Bree and her climbing partner down below.
Even though the flag was returned just moments after Bree was taken away in handcuffs, her job was done. Shero status activated. In that moment, Bree Newsome was transformed from activist to a symbol of inspiration and racial justice.
What would inspire a seemingly ordinary woman to do something so extraordinary? Sadly, it took a tragedy.
The Confederate flag controversy isn't new, but the June 2015 Charleston shooting was the straw that broke the camel's back.
The Confederate flag was minding its own business, blowing in the breeze over the South Carolina capitol grounds, when the breaking news came in. Nine people had been shot and killed in a historic black church in Charleston. 21-year-old Dylann Roof was quickly arrested and confessed to the horrific shooting. Many speculated the attack was a racially motivated hate crime, while others argued he must be "mentally ill." But it was the discovery of Dylann's own racist manifesto and creepy selfie collection that took the conversation in a new direction.
It's hard to argue the Confederate flag just stands for "heritage and pride" when a self-proclaimed racist and confessed murder wears it proudly. In response, protests and marches have sprung up across South Carolina, calling for the flag to be removed from the state capitol. Bree Newsome was just the first person to do something about it.
The Charleston shooter was a racist coward. But Bree Newsome is the hero we desperately need. And now there's tons of fan art to prove it.
— Rebecca Cohen (@GynoStar) June 28, 2015
I'm feeling pretty inspired by @BreeNewsome today. #freeBreepic.twitter.com/JoTjKYzZes
— Eric Orr (@subtle_squid) June 27, 2015
Cuz she a hero #FreeBree#BLACKGIRLMAGIC#stillpic.twitter.com/rOg1Qai1tP
— GOD (@Niall_JayDub) June 27, 2015
Learn more about Bree Newsome and her activism on her website and support her legal defense fund here.
In the meantime, can someone get started on Bree T-shirts, action figures, and a live-action movie? We'll be waiting.