[By: Anthony Boynton, III]
As the tension of the 2015 Charleston church shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal thickened the air, Bree Newsome climbed into the sky to tear down hatred’s flag. Social media and mainstream media outlets were abuzz over the activist’s act of civil disobedience and subsequent arrest. Since then, Newsome has gained national attention and has been touring the country giving talks about her work in the Black Lives Movement. She recently came to KU in an event sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, “Tearing Hate from the Sky.” This semi-autobiography tracks her journey into political consciousness and decision to act in civil disobedience on July 27, 2015 when she scaled a flag pole at the South Carolina State House in Columbia, SC to take down the Confederate flag.
At the core of Newsome’s speech was an encouraging message to KU students to step up and educate themselves in this current political moment. Students have always been in an unique position to lead political movements and she invited the audience to learn about how their lives are impacted by historical and political systems. She implored that this is the prerequisite to becoming politically aware and involved; if one wishes to be an activist they have to educate themselves. Newsome noted that her mother, an educator, was a major contributor to developing her political activist spirit, saying, “Education is the beginning and ending of many things.” A constant fervor for reading and her faith also informed her activism.
For further reading on the intersection of politics, race, and activism, we suggest:
Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
The Black Revolution on Campus by Martha Biondi
Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Davis and Frank Barat
From Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
God of the Oppressed by James Cone
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
The Struggle for Black Equality by Harvard Sitkoff
Anthony Boynton is a scholarly blerd and PhD student in English at the University of Kansas who writes about race, representation, pop culture and Afrofuturism.