On Tuesday, Feb. 23, filmmaker, writer and activist Bree Newsome will be on Wooster’s campus to speak on civil rights activism.
The event, hosted by the Womens’ Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Department, is titled “Tearing Hatred from the Sky.” The title refers in part to Newsome’s removal of the Confederate Battle Flag in front of the state house in Charleston, South Carolina on June 27, 2015. This act of civil disobedience was widely credited by many — including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — with motivating the flag’s eventual removal on July 10, following the deaths of nine African-Americans in a church shooting in downtown Charleston in June.
Newsome is a graduate of the Tisch School for the Arts at New York University and has a BFA. in film & television. Her award-winning work in film includes the acclaimed short film, Wake, which she wrote, directed and edited as an undergraduate. The film went on to win awards at the B.E.T. Urban World Film Festival and from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.
Her other work has emphasized social justice and activism. She is an organizer for Ignite NC, a group dedicated to inspiring social activism and leadership among young people in North Carolina.
In addition to her work in film, Newsome is an established singer for the band Powerhouse and composer of the single “#Staystrong: A Lovesong to Freedom Fighters.” She plans to release a full length album in the near future.
In the months since she took down the Confederate battle flag in Charleston, Newsome has traveled around the nation to share her story of activism. She presented at a high school in Dallas earlier this month and last week, hosted a talk at Johns Hopkins University, addressing her activism in Charleston, as well as other issues related to the Black Lives Matter movement — including the protests following the shooting of Trayvon Martin. She also received the 2016 Chairman’s Award at the NAACP Image Awards on Feb. 5 in Los Angeles.
Professor Christa Craven, chair of the WGSS department, and Professor Kabria Baumgartner of the history department helped plan and organize her appearance at the College. According to Baumgartner, they wanted an activist to speak on campus during WGSS Week.
“[Professor Craven and I] had both heard about Bree Newsome’s activism last year in the wake of the Charleston tragedy,” said Baumgartner, also noting Newsome’s recent appearances in an interview on the independent news program “Democracy Now” and a feature done on her activism in Colorlines magazine.
Craven said that her department hopes that Newsome’s visit will “inspire campus conversations about social justice activism.” Additionally, she noted the cooperation displayed by the event’s numerous co-sponsors, which include the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Queer Student Union and the Black Student Association.
Newsome will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Gault Recital Hall of Scheide Music Center on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The event is free and open to the public.