Civil rights advocate on tour, will speak at Green River College

Bree Newsome climbed the flagpole in front of the South Carolina statehouse to tear down the Confederate battle flag after the Charleston shooting.

A nationally-known civil right advocate will deliver her message Thursday evening on the Green River College campus in Auburn.

Bree Newsome will speak as part of Green River’s Artist and Speakers program. Her Feb. 22 talk begins at 6 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Student Union Building. The program is free and open to the public.

Immediately following Newsome’s talk, the GRC Prime Time Program will host a short discussion, facilitated by Prime Time instructor and Enumclaw resident Rich Elfers.

Newsome garnered national attention in June 2015 for her daring act of peaceful disobedience. Following the murder of nine black parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina, church, she climbed the 30-foot flagpole at the South Carolina statehouse and pulled down the Confederate battle flag as a protest against racist symbolism.

Her subsequent arrest galvanized public opinion and led to the permanent removal of the flag.

The flag was originally raised over the South Carolina capitol dome in 1961, viewed as a statement of opposition to the civil rights movement and lunch counter sit-in protests occurring at the time.

Newsome removed the Confederate flag hours before a pro-flag rally was scheduled to take place. Newsome and a partner were charged with defacing a monument, a misdemeanor.

As a recognized voice on injustice and racial discrimination, Newsome – whose great-great-great-grandparents were slaves in South Carolina at the onset of the Civil War – brings to light the importance of leadership in building and sustaining social movements.

An artist/activist, Newsome keeps busy. A week prior to her Green River College appearance, she will make two stops in North Carolina, one at a high school and one at Davidson College. The day before her Auburn talk, she will speak at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts; and, on Feb. 26, she will be speaking at California State University.

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