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Born with an artist’s soul and spirit, Bree Newsome has always been sensitive to the essential role that art and symbols play in shaping culture and consciousness. As she watched the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinkney, one of 9 people slaughtered in the name of white supremacy at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, SC, she recognized the message being communicated clearly by the US flag and the SC state flag at half-mast while the Confederate flag remained fully furled. Refusing to accept the premise of this image – that white supremacy is supreme, untouchable and invincible – she scaled the 30ft flagpole in front of the SC statehouse and removed the “stars and bars” declaring, “This flag comes down today!” Bree’s intention was to create a new image, a new symbol and a new consciousness of the power inherent in direct action. The iconic picture of her on the pole, flag in hand has become a touchstone of empowerment for disenfranchised people around the world.
A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Bree is an award-winning filmmaker (“WAKE”), writer, composer, singer, community activist and organizer but she does not see these as separate endeavors. “Art is activism and activism is art”, she insists, as she seamlessly blends her talents in pursuit of social and economic justice. Currently, she works as a western field organizer for IgniteNC, a project of the Southern Vision Alliance and she is a founding member of Tribe, a grassroots organizing collective dedicated to empowering underserved communities in Charlotte, NC. She has an unwavering belief in the power of the individual to make a difference and the utter inability of hate, injustice and inequality to survive the tidal wave that can be created by the collaboration and united action of individuals and groups committed to creating a better world.
This event is co-sponsored with Chadbourne Residential College and the Center for the Humanities. For more information about the MSC and our upcoming events, like our page and check out our website at msc.wisc.edu.