On Sunday, as far-right protesters prepare to rally in Washington DC, Susan Bro will place flowers at the spot where her daughter was killed.
Bro is the mother of Heather Heyer, the young paralegal and political activist who was the only person to be killed at last year’s Unite the Right protests in Charlottesville. Heyer was mowed down by a car driven by a white nationalist who plowed into a crowd of anti-racism counter demonstrators.
As white nationalists mark the one year anniversary of the day their violent convulsions in Charlottesville shocked the world, the friends, family, and neighbors who loved Heyer, including her still grieving mother, will mourn her death and honor her life.
One of the prominent white supremacists Bro cited in her interview, David Duke, a former leader Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, is expected to address the Washington rally organized by Jason Kessler, who was also behind last year’s unrest in Virginia.
In the flurry of media interviews she has given this week, Bro sometimes seems reluctant to call out Donald Trump directly for his abhorrent views on race, as a top official of a non-partisan charity dedicated to the memory of her martyred daughter.
“I have the Heather Heyer Foundation, a (501) (c) (3). I’m not allowed to have political opinions,” she explained this week to MSNBC.
But as the hours ticked down before Sunday’s white nationalist rally in Washington, without directly citing Trump by name, Bro said the president should be known by the company he keeps.
“I can tell you what David Duke and Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler and I believe Matthew Heimbach even have said, and that is that the current administration has given them the go-ahead, given them a thumbs up, given them a wink and a nod. That’s their words not mine,” she told MSNBC in an interview on Friday.
Sunday will be filled with tributes.
“I’m going to bring flowers to put on the street at the time when she was killed. Then I’m going to keep continuing with the work as I see fit that, you know — to move racial justice forward, justice for the LGBTQ community,” Bro told in the MSNBC interview, at the very spot were her daughter was murdered a year ago.
“You know, I believe America is about ‘give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be free.’ That was the America I was brought up to believe in. Those kinds of things are what Heather’s focus was. That’s what she was standing here to support.”
In addition to paying tribute to her daughter, Bro says that she will attend a Sunday NAACP meeting, where she will speak about what America has to do to heal from the hatred and divisions that divide the nation.
“The country is very polarized, but I think this has been simmering below the surface for many years,” she told USA Today in an interview published this week.
“It’s just now coming out, and so we need to get to the root of it: clear it out, heal our country from the roots up.”
She describes a year of anguish and personal loss. “This is the last of the first,” Bro told Yahoo News.
“The first year a loved one passes, you experience the first birthday that they missed, the first family dinner that they’ve missed, and so forth and so on. So this will be the last of the first,” she said.
“I’m not looking forward to it, but I will survive it. It is survivable, and I will continue forward. That’s what I do.”