09:56 AM

​Civil rights activist opens United Black World Month with inspirational message

The civil rights activist who helped permanently end the flying of the Confederate flag on the South Carolina State House grounds spoke to a packed room Thursday as The Ohio State University launched its celebration of United Black World Month. Bree Newsome encouraged students to remain engaged in the cause of social justice.

Bree Newsome speaks at the ceremony

“I truly believe this is a generation of awakening,” said Newsome, the opening ceremony featured speaker. “The only question you need to ask yourself is, ‘what will be my contribution, what will I do to lift humanity up?’”

In 2015 Newsome climbed a flag pole in the state capital of Columbia, South Carolina, and removed the Confederate flag. The act of protest followed the murders of nine African American churchgoers by a white supremacist in Charleston. Following Newsome’s actions, state lawmakers voted to remove the flag forever.

Newsome spoke to an auditorium filled with faculty, staff and students. She said it is easy to be fearful based on the state of current events, but she said such times spark change.

“Turmoil is not something we have to fear. Turmoil is an indication that the ground is ripe for sowing the seeds of social change,” she said. “Every period of awakening and advancement has been marked by this kind of turmoil.”

The theme for United Black World Month is “Black Lives in America: Fueling the Fire, Sustaining the Vision.” The focus is on sparking productive conversations and community involvement. The university celebrates United Black World Month, also known as Black History Month, annually with events and programs.

Singer Caroline Bennett

“Through dialogue, and performances and programs this month, together we will explore the critical issues in society,” said Senior Vice President for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston. “I’m excited to be a part of it. I’m even more excited that what you do going forward changes this world.”

The opening ceremony also featured performances by spoken word artist Kim Brazwell and a performance by graduate student and singer Caroline Bennett.

The Student Life Multicultural Center is working with student organizations and university departments for a month-long series of programs to celebrate United Black World Month. A schedule of events is posted on the Multicultural Center website