A huge benefit of attending a university like Lehigh is having access to amazing speakers and presenters that different committees bring onto campus. On Thursday, January 28, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee welcomed Ms. Bree Newsome to campus to discuss her short film “Wake” and have a live discussion on activism afterwards led by Professor Darius Omar Williams and student Madeleine Centrella ’18. She is best known for scaling the flagpole in front of the capitol building and tearing down the confederate flag in Charleston, South Carolina. Through her life so far she has done amazing things, and surely will continue to do those until freedom turns from an ideal into a reality.
Bree began by discussing how much of her family history of enslavement in Charleston influenced both her film and her activism. Through her film it is clear that Bree is also an artist, and is using her art to bring to light test issues. She knows that it is a powerful medium, and the duty of an artist to reflect the times. She labeled art as a “response”, and how in the aftermath of tragedies brought on by racism art will begin to arise, as an interface with and a response to these experiences. Bree also said that if you have the talent, resources, and awareness relating to an issue, it is almost a duty to do something about it.
When asked about the influence of social media versus on the ground activism, she said that it should be “both/and” instead of one or the other, and recognized the importance of each for awareness. Her work and activism is about tearing down an ideology or hatred, and in the hope that much good will come of it. She continues to do work to push for change, knowing that “a dream deferred is not a plan of action”, and that if liberation is a real goal, then more serious discussions need to occur.