Heather Heyer's mom says she 'got me to understand white privilege'

One year after Susan Bro's daughter was killed when a car plowed into counterprotesters at a rally of white ...

Posted: Aug 12, 2018 6:42 AM
Updated: Aug 12, 2018 6:42 AM

One year after Susan Bro's daughter was killed when a car plowed into counterprotesters at a rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, Bro plans to mark the tragedy by going to the street where it happened.

Bro's visit this weekend to the place where her daughter, Heather Heyer, 32, died is emblematic of her grit and the purpose she found after the violent episode that shocked Charlottesville and the nation.

2017 Charlottesville white nationalist rally

Charlottesville

Continents and regions

Discrimination

Donald Trump

Heather Heyer

Misc people

North America

Political Figures - US

Protests and demonstrations

Racism and racial discrimination

Right-wing extremism

Societal issues

Society

Southeastern United States

Susan Bro

The Americas

United States

Virginia

White supremacy and neo-Nazism

"There's plenty of work to do," Bro said in an interview Friday night on "Anderson Cooper Full Circle" on Facebook. "And, frankly, my new motto for myself is, suck it up, buttercup. Get up, get busy, don't feel sorry for yourself."

Nineteen others were injured in the clash during a "Unite the Right" rally on August 12, 2017. An Ohio man accused of driving the car was charged with second-degree murder in Heyer's death. Those who knew the suspect said he held extreme views and a fascination with Nazism.

Bro has spent the past year speaking out on social justice issues that were important to her daughter, and launching a foundation in Heyer's name. In an interview later Friday on "Anderson Cooper 360," Bro said she thinks it's time to "take the focus off Heather, as Heather would want us to do. It's been a year now, and let's focus on why she was there. Let's focus on what she died for."

Bro said Heyer, a paralegal for a Charlottesville law firm, helped her understand white privilege, and she has been attempting to explain that to others.

"We've always acted as if black lives never mattered, as if people of color never mattered," Bro told Cooper on "Full Circle." "We really have not treated people of color in the same way we ourselves want to be treated. And I'm calling b.s. on that."

Bro said people who hear her speak, or who know about what happened to Heyer, contact her and say they've been inspired. Bro said they tell her that if she can stand up, they can, too.

"And, to me, that's where change has to happen," she said. "It has to be a heart movement. It has to be positive, nonviolent, direct action."

Charlottesville is bracing for what may come this weekend on the first anniversary of the deadly rally. States of emergency were declared Wednesday for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Charlottesville. The declarations enable law enforcement to access state resources, including the National Guard, if unrest breaks out at events in and around Charlottesville and outside Washington, where a "Unite the Right 2" rally is scheduled.

In Charlottesville, at least one rally is being organized on the University of Virginia campus by a group of student activists, UVA Students United. Numerous planned community events will promote peaceful messages, including a gathering in honor of Heyer.

Bro said her message to counterdemonstrators in Charlottesville and elsewhere this weekend is, "Keep your wits about you. Don't let your guard down. But you don't need to be absolutely paranoid."

Bro, who was not in Charlottesville last year when her daughter was killed, said she understands why some people are in "high anxiety," particularly people who may have seen the violence and are "still living the trauma of that."

Reflecting on the "Unite the Right" rally one year ago, Bro said on "AC360," "Those of us who weren't paying attention, sadly, that was a big shock. Those who were paying attention knew it was coming. And it definitely snapped our heads around."

Days after her daughter was killed, Bro said, she was not interested in taking a phone call from President Donald Trump because she believed he made comments equating her daughter to white supremacists. Trump blamed "both sides" for the violence in Charlottesville, drawing an equivalency between white supremacists and neo-Nazis with the people protesting them.

When asked by Cooper whether she had seen any change in Trump's views on what happened in Charlottesville, or on race issues in America, Bro said, "I have other things to do than to worry about what he's doing."

Bro said donations from around the world poured in to her family after Heyer's death, and that led Bro to start the Heather Heyer Foundation, which awards scholarship money to high school and college students. Bro, a former school teacher, said the foundation also is planning to start a youth empowerment program that will train young people to develop what she called "positive, nonviolent social change campaigns."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34574

Reported Deaths: 2134
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9853578
Lake3616190
Allen161869
Cass15877
Elkhart132228
St. Joseph127434
Hendricks116971
Hamilton115993
Johnson1105108
Madison58659
Porter53928
Bartholomew51135
Clark50441
LaPorte43323
Howard40828
Tippecanoe4023
Jackson3891
Delaware38537
Shelby37322
Hancock33827
Floyd31839
Boone31535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2742
Montgomery24117
White2358
Noble23221
Clinton2321
Decatur22431
Grant21122
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry18211
Greene16924
Vigo1698
Dearborn16821
Monroe16612
Warrick16628
Lawrence16324
Miami1401
Putnam1377
Kosciusko1351
Jennings1304
Orange12822
Scott1203
Franklin1108
Ripley1096
Marshall1082
Carroll932
Daviess8816
Steuben832
Wayne825
LaGrange812
Wabash782
Newton7810
Fayette777
Jasper671
Washington521
Jay520
Clay511
Fulton491
Rush472
Randolph473
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley423
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen351
Brown331
Perry330
Wells320
Benton300
Huntington282
Knox280
Tipton251
Blackford252
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke180
Gibson172
Posey160
Adams151
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35513

Reported Deaths: 2155
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5862262
Cuyahoga4444226
Hamilton2672150
Marion266628
Lucas2267242
Pickaway207437
Mahoning1431174
Summit1420173
Butler89329
Columbiana79353
Stark72791
Lorain68759
Montgomery66316
Trumbull57348
Belmont42912
Warren37321
Miami35730
Tuscarawas3434
Ashtabula33934
Medina33722
Delaware33713
Portage32557
Lake30812
Wood29446
Clark2856
Geauga28432
Wayne27450
Fairfield2676
Licking24810
Allen21232
Mercer2117
Clermont2115
Richland2003
Erie17214
Darke17021
Madison1567
Washington11819
Crawford1144
Morrow1071
Greene1015
Ottawa9916
Putnam9214
Sandusky7911
Monroe7812
Auglaize733
Ross712
Hocking694
Jefferson672
Hardin610
Huron581
Williams551
Union521
Muskingum520
Hancock501
Clinton431
Shelby433
Wyandot412
Fulton410
Fayette400
Coshocton400
Logan390
Holmes391
Preble371
Guernsey351
Defiance342
Carroll313
Lawrence300
Brown291
Champaign281
Highland251
Knox251
Vinton212
Seneca202
Ashland200
Athens181
Perry181
Scioto160
Henry150
Paulding140
Jackson140
Adams101
Harrison100
Gallia81
Van Wert60
Pike60
Meigs60
Noble60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Few Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 70°
Angola
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 70°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 69°
Decatur
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 72°
Van Wert
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
Sun Continues Monday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events