Activist who pulled down SC State House Confederate flag not speaking at Asheville school

FILE - Bree Newsome, who pulled down the Confederate flag from outside the South Carolina State House amid controversy a couple years ago, will not be allowed to speak to students at Asheville Middle School.

The woman who pulled down the Confederate flag from outside the South Carolina State House amid controversy a couple years ago will not be allowed to speak to students at Asheville Middle School.

A local social justice educator said she found out last week after planning the talk for months, because the school district said it goes against its policy of allowing speakers who promote illegal acts.

According to a statement from the school district: “School board policy 3535 states that the involvement of any visiting speaker regarding citizenship issues must be 'correctly structured' by the school's professional staff. The policy also states that the advocacy of illegal acts by a speaker is not permitted.”

So, under Asheville school district policy, Bree Newsome wouldn't be able to speak. But, local social justice educator Ellie Richard said plans had been in the works for months for Newsome to speak to students at Asheville Middle School.

"On Thursday, I received a call from Principal Dockery telling me that Bree was no longer invited, and I was stunned. It was a very wishy washy conversation. She did say that, well, ‘she's been arrested.’ And I said an awful lot of activists have been arrested. Some of our greatest change makers in history have long rap sheets. So, does that mean if Rosa Parks were alive and able to come to Asheville Middle School that she would be declined,” Richard said.

A spokesperson for Asheville public schools sent News 13 a statement saying Newsome was never supposed to speak in the first place, and she was offered up after author Margot Lee Shetterly had to back out.

Richard said regardless of any disagreement, the students are missing out.

"It's just a terrible loss for a lot of community members and children to not have that opportunity," Richard said.

Newsome will be speaking at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Ferguson Auditorium at A-B Tech and then she'll be at the YMI at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

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