Bree Newsome on Removing the Confederate Flag: "I Did it Because I Am Free."

Bree Newsome, as seen in a still from a video shot of her flag removal demonstration on Saturday.

On Saturday, filmmaker and musician Bree Newsome did something many people have wanted to do for a long time: Instead of waiting for South Carolina lawmakers to agree on removing the Confederate flag from outside the State House, she climbed up the flag pole and took the damn thing down herself

The entire action was caught on video: 

The Confederate flag has been flying outside the South Carolina Capitol for more than 75 years. The Southern legislators raised the flag outside the Capitol building in 1938, after Congress discussed (but didn’t pass) a bill that would have made lynching a federal crime. Newsome’s brazen act of civil disobedience wasn’t undertaken lightly—she was secure in a harness during the climb and refused police officers’ commands to descend before she’d grabbed the flag. Newsome and her ally James Ian Tyson were arrested after the action and are now facing criminal charges. 

Today, Newsome published a lengthy statement explaining the action at Blue Nation Review. Her statement begins by describing how she felt when she heard the news of the Charleston massacre. It reminded her of the scene in Selma where the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham is bombed. “This was not a page in a textbook I was reading nor an inscription on a monument I was visiting,” writes Newsome. “This was now. This was real. This was—this is—still happening.” For far too long, she explains, the Confederate flag has flown as a reminder of white supremacy and racist violence.  “I did it for all the fierce black women on the front lines of the movement and for all the little black girls who are watching us. I did it because I am free,” she writes.  

Read Newsome’s whole statement here. Meanwhile, shortly after her protest, the Confederate flag was returned to the flag pole outside the Capitol. When will it finally be taken down for good? 

Related Reading — Sister Soldiers: On Black Women, Police Brutality, and the True Meaning of Liberation. 

by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media's online editor. She's interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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5 Comments Have Been Posted

wow

Amazing, beautiful, inexplicable relief, a deep breath, inspiring, love conquers, true strength, admiration for such courage, freedom, thank you

That date is from the NYTimes

Hi! That 1938 date is from the New York Times article I linked in the piece. I'm not sure about why there's a discrepancy between those two sources—if you know anything else about the history, please feel free to share it.

confederate flag removal by Bree Newsome

Thank you Bree for your courage and conviction. Thank you Bitch Media for this report. If only we citizens could intervene so practically and powerfully in the countless other policy decisions where politicians refuse to do the right thing.

confederate flag removal by Bree Newsome

Thank you Bree for your courage and conviction. Thank you Bitch Media for this report. If only we citizens could intervene so practically and powerfully in the countless other policy decisions where politicians refuse to do the right thing.

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