North Carolina State University’s Park Scholarships Class of 2021 presented the 22nd annual William C. Friday Award to Bree Newsome Bass on Aug. 22, 2020. Newsome Bass is an artist, filmmaker, and activist from Charlotte, N.C. She joined Park Scholars for a conversation on leadership, confronting racial inequities, and driving change in communities.
Newsome Bass has dedicated her life to improving communities. She gained national recognition in the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting in 2015 for climbing a flagpole to remove the Confederate battle flag atop the South Carolina State House, but that is one small facet of her work. As an antiracist activist, housing rights advocate, and field organizer, Newsome Bass provides aid to under-resourced communities. She is a founding member for The Tribe, a grassroots collective that focuses on sustainable community organization, and uses her passion for film and the arts to advance social justice causes.
“The Class of 2021 believes that Newsome Bass’s commitment to equity and empowerment, and her multidisciplinary approach to both of these values, make her an outstanding and deserving recipient of the William C. Friday Award,” said Micah Furr ’21, chair of the Park Scholarships Distinguished Speakers Committee.
In February, Park Scholars in the Class of 2021 met with the interim president of the UNC System Dr. William L. Roper to nominate Newsome Bass on the basis of her exceptional commitment to scholarship, leadership, service, and character through her work in the arts, activism, and advocacy.
“Ms. Newsome Bass has demonstrated an enduring commitment to leadership, scholarship, service, and character through her advocacy and activism,” Dr. Roper said. “The Park Scholars have selected a worthy recipient for this year’s award.”
The William C. Friday Award, established in 2000, is named in honor of the late president of the UNC System. It is presented to individuals who carry on Friday’s dedication to leadership, scholarship, service, and character. The recipient of the William C. Friday Award is selected by the senior class of Park Scholars each year with input from the current UNC System president. Until his death in 2012, Friday himself provided input on the students’ nominees for the award.
Past recipients of the William C. Friday Award include NC State Chancellor Emeritus Larry Monteith, General Hugh Shelton, noted historian John Hope Franklin, Special Olympics of North Carolina CEO and President Keith Fishburne, Ambassador James A. Joseph, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst, behavioral economist Dan Ariely, CORRAL Riding Academy Founder and President Joy Currey, former UNC System President Tom Ross, and Bitty & Beau’s Coffee Founder and CEO Amy Gage Wright, GrowingChange Founder Noran Sanford, and A Place at the Table Founder and Executive Maggie Kane.