Bree Newsome explains Confederate flag act: 'I refuse to be ruled by fear'

Bree Newsome, the woman who has been called a “superhero” for taking down the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse, is now speaking out about why she took down the flag, which she describes as a symbol of “racial intimidation and fear.”

“A white man had just entered a black church and massacred people as they prayed. He had assassinated a civil rights leader. This was not a page in a textbook I was reading nor an inscription on a monument I was visiting,” Newsome wrote in a statement on Blue Nation Review, describing the Charleston church massacre as a turning point. “This was now. This was real. This was—this is—still happening.”

She and other activists sat down to decide how to go about removing the flag. They decided that a black woman would take it down and a white man (in this case, activist James Tyson, 30) would help her over the fence “as a sign that our alliance transcended both racial and gender divides.”

“We made this decision because for us, this is not simply about a flag, but rather it is about abolishing the spirit of hatred and oppression in all its forms,” Newsome added.

She went on to say that she traced her heritage back to South Carolina and that she believed Southern heritage was about more than just the Confederacy.

“You see, I know my history and my heritage,” Newsome said. “The Confederacy is neither the only legacy of the south nor an admirable one. The southern heritage I embrace is the legacy of a people unbowed by racial oppression.”

“The history of the South is also in many ways complex and full of inconvenient truths,” Newsome added. “But in order to move into the future we must reckon with the past.”

When she reached the ground after removing the flag, Newsome quoted from the Bible, saying, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?”

Now, she stands by that sentiment, saying, “I refuse to be ruled by fear. How can America be free and be ruled by fear? How can anyone be?”