The iconic image of Bree Newsome harnessed to a flag pole high above the ground with a Confederate flag in hand has blown up the internet in recent days. Her bold move on June 27 in front of the South Carolina capitol follows the murders of nine African Americans in a Charleston church, the recent burnings of six Southern churches, and a renewed decades-long row over whether or not the Confederate flag should be flown in public spaces.
Her bravery and pluck have inspired countless Americans, and serve as a reminder that regular people can take action, be heard, and initiate change on the political front. While the 30-year-old black woman was arrested along with a fellow protester and charged with defacing a monument, it's likely the South Carolina legislature will vote to remove the flag--which was put back up shortly after Newsome took it down--at a special session beginning July 6.
Newsome's behavior underscores a few truths regarding leadership.
1. Born leaders know when to seize the moment.
Inherent in perfect timing comes a healthy degree of risk, which not everyone can swallow. Point to anyone who has achieved greatness and you'll find an individual passionate about what he or she values and confident enough to stand up for what's right. And when it comes to business, entrepreneurs taking ballsy and well-timed chances are responsible for some of the most successful and profitable companies in history.
2. Effective leaders are serious planners.
In a statement released to Blue Nation Review, Newsome explained how in the days prior to her climb she had gathered with a small group of diverse individuals who decided the flag had to be removed and planned how to do it. For example, the group intentionally paired Newsome with her partner in civil disobedience. "Achieving this would require many roles, including someone who must volunteer to scale the pole and remove the flag. It was decided that this role should go to a black woman and that a white man should be the one to help her over the fence as a sign that our alliance transcended both racial and gender divides," she wrote. "We made this decision because for us, this is not simply about a flag, but rather it is about abolishing the spirit of hatred and oppression in all its forms."
3. Good leaders give credit where it is due.
In her statement Newhouse made it clear law enforcement did not harm her during her arrest and jailing, but rather were "nothing short of professional." She also named the man who helped her across the capitol's fence and guarded her while she climbed, James Ian Tyson. "History will rightly remember him alongside the many white allies who, over the centuries, have risked their own safety in defense of black life and in the name of racial equality," she wrote.
Not everyone agrees with Newsome's tack. In fact, on July 18 the Ku Klux Klan plans to protest at the South Carolina capitol grounds about the possibility of the Confederate flag being permanently removed from the site.