Politics

Heather Heyer’s Mother Susan Bro on Her Daughter’s Legacy

With the foundation, but also in my speeches, talking to people one-on-one, talking to small groups, talking on panels, giving a call to action for everyone to stand up and be counted, pay attention, get focused, get energized.

Last year you told a reporter for the Daily Beast that you felt the president had put forth a “hateful agenda.” Looking back over the past year, do you still feel that way?

I can tell you definitely David Duke has said that the president has given them a boost, Richard Spencer has said that the president has given them hope and courage. Matthew Heimbach, I believe, also said that, as well as Jason Kessler. They have all said that Trump’s administration has given them courage and hope, and that he’s giving them a wink and a nod. That’s their words.

If you could dictate how the president handled the anniversary of the events in Charlottesville, how would you want him to handle it?

The president?

Yeah.

I don’t want him involved.

Ok.

We’re small potatoes to him, we don’t mean a thing to him.

A year ago you told reporters that you’ve had to hide Heather’s grave from Nazis so it doesn’t get defaced. Are you still hiding it?

Yeah, I’ll always hide it, but it’s not just from Nazis. The cemetery and I agreed they don’t want anyone there. They don’t want other graves trampled from well-wishers or otherwise. Viola Liuzzo and Emmett Till’s markers were both frequently vandalized, this kind of stuff still happens long after people have passed away, so why put it in that situation? Fourth Street is a public memorial where people are welcome to go and leave messages, or whatever. There’s always a box of chalk there available for whoever wants to write on the building.

Is there anything that’s happened in the last year, in terms of the response to what happened in Charlottesville, that has given you hope in terms of things getting better?

Yeah, there are small gains with people that I meet. In Charlottesville itself, not so much, except maybe more people are paying attention. Outside of Charlottesville, there are definitely a lot more people being socially aware and active. I met with the U.S. commissioner of civil rights to talk, I’ve met with a lawyer’s group who is working to develop policies along with police officers across the country to do a better job of dealing with issues, and those were all panels of people, so there was a variety of groups—religions and genders and cross-genders represented on those, and that was encouraging. I’m seeing a lot more conversations, difficult conversations. People trying to learn to do better, just we’ve got so far to come. And it’s not an easy process, let’s put it that way, nor is it a quick process. If it were quick, then we would be back where we were, still having a problem underneath, and not having really dealt with the core of the issue.


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