|An AP photo of Bree Newsome's arrest after she removed the Dixie flag from the South Carolina State House.|
Ms. Newsome's actions this morning reversed the battle cry of the Dixie flag: Now it is a call to action for all Americans, the beginning of a new fight in the longest running war in our country. It began before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, with our genocide of American Indians in one of the biggest land grabs in history, and our trafficking of Africans in the slave trade that established the fortunes of many Northern and Southern families. Our ownership of those slaves furthered the growth of our capitalist economy. Institutionalized racism, the cause of economic disparities in America, continue to benefit the enfranchised among us, most of whom are white. But Ms. Newsome's actions are not intended to divide us.
In the summer of 1964, the racism and hatred that the Dixie flag represents killed two Jewish men, Andrew Goodman and Michael Shwerner, and their colleague, a Black man named James Earl Chaney, right before the start of the Congress of Racial Equality's voting registration campaign in Mississippi. I was a school-girl at the time, and my family had just moved to the suburbs. We were the first with a Spanish name to live in that neighborhood. A Black family with two children arrived shortly afterward. The father was an anesthesiologist and the mother a nurse. One night, shortly after the bodies of the three activists were found, we were awakened by the siren that called our volunteer fireman to work. A cross was burning on the lawn of the Black family's home.