‘What’s right isn’t always popular’: Bree Newsome tells her story of activism


Robert Dillon

Bree Newsome gives keynote address on Martin Luther King Jr’s impact on the civil rights movement and activism today.

Flimmaker and musician Bree Newsome, spoke about her experience tearing down a confederate flag as an act of protest in a keynote speech addressing the activism and today’s leaders.

Newsome has spent her career working with non-profit organizations and other community groups. Newsome, a civil rights icon, began paving the way for other activists after she climbed the flagpole outside of the South Carolina statehouse and tore down the confederate flag as an act of protest.

A room full of students, staff and members of the Ames community came together to hear about what inspired Newsome’s activism and how to make a difference in a speech addressing Martin Luther King Jr.’s impact on youth and students in activism.

Newsome said while Martin Luther King Jr. is prominently known for his “I Have a Dream” speech, it is also important to recognize his list of demands, which, to this day, have not all been met.

“We can’t simply focus on doing what’s popular because what’s popular isn’t always right, and what’s right isn’t always popular,” Newsome said. “Choosing to delay or deny justice only guarantees a bigger crisis for a later generation.”

Newsome also told the audience of times when she was arrested due to protesting and when she did not necessarily agree with those she was working alongside.

Climbing the flagpole in South Carolina with the support of other protestors was never just symbolic.

“It was a very real act of solidarity, and that’s the way we need people to show up,” Newsome said.

Newsome brought light to her thought process, examining what was at stake for her.

“Where would we be if it wasn’t for those that recognized what was at stake in the time they lived in?” Newsome said.

Newsome said she used her family’s history with racism and slavery as one of her purposes to fight for rights, which encouraged her audience to find their purpose.

“My biggest takeaway from this is that I didn’t know who the speaker was, and considering the amount of work she has done, I’m surprised I couldn’t find more about her,” said Abigail Todhunter, a freshman majoring in advertising. “I think what she said is really powerful, and I think she needs to be heard by a lot of people.”

This speech not only resonated with students but also with members of the Ames community.

“I try to come to these lectures often, as it is a great opportunity to see a broad range of speakers,” said Laura Teske. “The questions of where do you become involved and where do you find those issues that you’re most passionate about are important, and Newsome did a great job exemplifying how difficult it can be.”