I did it because I am free

The People Could Fly: The Picture Book

Bree Newsome released an exclusive online statement on Blue Nation Review about why she removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse. Following her act of confrontational civil disobedience, Newsome gained a massive online following and over $75,000 was raised online to cover her legal expenses.

In her statement, she detailed her reasons for embarking on such a courageous act. One paragraph in particular struck home for me.

She states,

“I removed the flag not only in defiance of those who enslaved my ancestors in the southern United States, but also in defiance of the oppression that continues against black people globally in 2015, including the ongoing ethnic cleansing in the Dominican Republic. I did it in solidarity with the South African students who toppled a statue of the white supremacist, colonialist Cecil Rhodes. I did it for all the fierce black women on the front lines of the movement and for all the little black girls who are watching us. I did it because I am free.

The bold emphasis on the last two sentences are my own. It takes a little Black girl, to know what a little Black girl needs. In a world where our very existence is continually threatened, watching a Black woman demand accountability in the face of nonsensical oppression based systems can be life altering for upcoming generations. This is especially the case in terms of recognizing the true impact of self awareness and self love coupled with social justice activism. Furthermore, it’s a long running tradition for little Black girls to grow up and become the gatekeepers of justice (often due to a combination of prowess and necessity).

In the struggle for emancipation, eventually there is a realization that freedom is not in a far away land. It is a state of higher consciousness that results in fearlessness.

Thus, it is no coincidence that when I think of Bree Newsome, I’m reminded of the children’s story The People Could Fly. Bree’s actions were the modern day embodiment of taking up flight through the spirit of freedom.


“There was a great outcryin’. The bent backs straighten up. Old and young who were called slaves and could fly joined hands. Say like they would ring-sing. But they didn’t shuffle in a circle. They didn’t sing. They rose on the air. They flew in a flock that was black against the heavenly blue. Black crows or black shadows. It didn’t matter, they went so high. Way above the plantation, way over the slavery land. Say they flew away to Free-dom.”

From Virgina Hamilton’s “The People Could Fly



Jam-FBJAM’s PICKS features articles and videos around the web that highlight cultural and social justice issues. Have an article or video for JAM to share? Email JessicaMitchellpr@gmail.com.

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