News & Announcements

Bree Newsome Bass to Deliver 165th Commencement Address at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Bree Newsome Bass

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is pleased to announce Bree Newsome Bass, award-winning artist and human rights activist, will speak at the seminary’s 165th Commencement on May 13, 2022. Bass is a celebrated writer and public speaker who positions her work within the tradition of liberation theology and social justice movements. The Commencement service will begin at 9:00 a.m. at Alice Millar Chapel on the campus of Northwestern University. All are welcome to attend.

“Bree Newsome made headlines when, in the name of Jesus, and quoting from scripture, she ripped down a symbol of hate from the South Carolina State House,” said Rev. Dr. Javier Viera, president of Garrett-Evangelical. “Yet, her public witness, work, and unrelenting quest for justice is much broader and deeper than that one act of moral courage.  Her deep faith is the motivating influence in taking on the challenges of racism, poverty, and human rights, among other issues.  She has regularly called upon Christians to take their faith seriously to urgently address the moral crises of our time, and her fearlessness in doing so is both an inspiration and a challenge to all of us who claim to follow in the way of Jesus.”

Bass is best known for a historic act of protest when she prayed while scaling a 30-foot flagpole at South Carolina’s capitol to remove a Confederate flag in the aftermath of racially motivated killings at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. This action energized the movement to remove confederate symbols that continue to this day and has led to the removal of multiple confederate monuments around the nation.

Bass was appointed by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court to a panel making recommendations of display of art and portraiture at the Supreme Court. Her submitted written opinion influenced the removal of Confederate art.

Bass is a sought-after public speaker who travels the nation lecturing on the history of the civil rights movement and the role of faith in the ongoing Black freedom movement. She has led workshops with hundreds of students from middle school to graduate level on the importance of civil disobedience and student organizing.

Additionally, Bass is an award-winning filmmaker whose short film “WAKE” continues to screen in exhibits and has been included in curriculum at various universities including UCLA. She is currently working on two documentary projects.

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church, was founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 450 students from various denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy, and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.