Social activist Bree Newsome speaks at annual MU Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Newsome spoke about nonviolent social movements and the importance of student activism

MU hosted its annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Wednesday Jan. 23. Bree Newsome, a social activist who is best known for removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state grounds, spoke about her experiences.

When she volunteered to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state grounds, Newsome said she felt connected to past freedom fighters, including Harriet Tubman.

Newsome spoke about the importance of nonviolent protests. At the start of her speech, Newsome referred to a quote by King in which he said that noncooperation with evil is just as moral as cooperating with good, when explaining her act of civil disobedience as she removed the Confederate flag.

“The root of all social issues is a question of ‘what does it mean to be human?’,” Newsome said. “What are those basic rights that we are entitled to?”

Sophomore Trey Cook has been attending the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at MU for a few years and believes that it is important to recognize King’s efforts.

“I think it’s important to continue working on the change in the policy and beliefs Dr. King had,” Cook said. “It’s important for us to continue a conversation that he started so long ago.”

He also said that it is important to recognize the increase in King’s approval rating from the time of his death to now.

At the start of this event, MU presented its annual Martin Luther King Jr. award to the BOLD Academy, the Black + Brown Opportunity Leadership and Development academy. This academy is a leadership organization whose main goal is to help navigate its students to college.

“I believe that children are our future,” Melita Walker, one of the BOLD founders, said. “We have put our efforts and our attention into the young ladies in our community. Our goal is to help them get to college and inspire them to make a difference in the lives of other girls.”

Newsome also discussed the importance of student activism and the role it plays in society today.

“I think that it is very important to support student activism in whatever form it takes,” Newsome said. “My role as an organizer is to intervene and to help students think through their strategies of what they are trying to accomplish. Everyone has within them the power to be a changemaker.”

Walker believes that this award recognizes the way in which they serve the community and believes it’s important for her students to listen to Newsome and her message as an African American social justice activist.

“We wanted them to see the power of one person and to recognize the power in being a Black woman and to understand serving your community is really important,” Walker said. “It was important to have our girls here.”

Edited by Emily Wolf | ewolf@themaneater.com

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