The lowering of the Confederate flag on the Capitol grounds in South Carolina today is deeply symbolic. While the horrific deaths in Charleston created the moment for this historic action, the discussions and decisions this stimulated have been shaped by a movement that has been growing since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson last year. Black Lives Matter and the ongoing nonviolent, peaceful demonstrations have forced long needed conversations and actions. All those who came out and engaged in discussions of privilege and discrimination helped make this happen.
I have a personal connection to this. Todd Zimmer, who trained me to be an Action Leader in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, and also led the Change the Course training I attended in Louisville, was then working with the Rainforest Action Network. Much of that training focused on nonviolent civil disobedience direct action planning and execution.
Figure 1Todd Zimmer on far right
Figure 2Todd Zimmer with Des Moines Mayor Cownie
Todd organized the act of civil disobedience by Brittany Newsome, who was arrested after she scaled the flagpole to remove the flag last Saturday.
The NAACP praised Newsome as a “courageous young woman” and asked for leniency from prosecutors.
“We commend the courage and moral impulse of Ms. Newsome as she stands for justice like many NAACP activists including Henry David Thoreau, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and numerous Americans who have engaged in civil disobedience,” it said. “The NAACP calls on state prosecutors to consider the moral inspiration behind the civil disobedience of this young practitioner of democracy.”
Figure 3Brittany Newsome arrested
Nonviolent civil disobedience direct actions continue to be effective as tools to help promote social justice and change.