Brittany “Bree” Newsome will be one of the celebrated guest speakers at the 8th annual Spring Literary Forum Series in honor of Black History Month hosted by Florida A&M University’s Department of English and Modern Languages Feb. 25-26 at FAMU’s Lee Hall Auditorium on campus.
The name “Bree Newsome” was blasted all over social media in June of 2015 after she bravely climbed up a flagpole and removed the Confederate flag outside the South Carolina Statehouse.
According to the Associated Press, Newsome had been charged with defacing monuments on state capitol grounds, a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $5,000 and a prison term of up to three years or both.
Students, like fourth-year criminal justice student from Miami Jazz’mine Barbar, are amazed at Newsome’s courage.
“It’s amazing what she did and I know it took a lot of heart because this flag has been used for a long time to intimidate our race,” Barbar. “Just last month we saw the Confederate flag being flown over our own campus! It’s clear that even though time has changed, racist views have remained the same.”
Her courageous gesture was in response to the nine people slain during a bible study class at Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, S.C., including Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator and pastor of the church.
Organizer of the event and FAMU english professor Natalie King-Pedroso, Ph.D., said this act of grit coming from a young person was moving.
“I know many elders were deeply moved because a young person understood why this had to be done,” King-Pedroso, Ph.D., said.
King-Pedroso also expressed her aim for engaging in such a “powerful examination of the world of black women of the American South” and hopes that students are inspired by their stories.
“As we celebrate those ancestors of the past, we shall reflect on the present and prepare for the future … More than anything, we hope students are inspired by the stories shared about African-American women of the South and the Afra-Southern spirit,” King-Pedroso said.
Fourth-year FAMU public relations student from District of Columbia Ebony Gibbs said she would want to know what motivated Newsome.
“Knowing that she’s coming is interesting because it would be good to hear her side of what motivated her to take down the flag,” Gibbs said.
Newsome will screen Wake, one of her short films, and discuss her activism during her visit on FAMU’s campus this Thursday at 12:30 p.m.
The theme of this year’s forum is Afra-Retroism and the American South.
Other guests being celebrated include Nikky Finney, recipient of the prestigious National Book Award for Poetry, award-winning writer Evelyn Coleman and former administrator for the USDA Shirley Sherrod, just to name a few.
The event is free and open to the public.