GREENSBORO, N.C. (WFMY)-- You may recognize the name, Heather Heyer. She died on August 12, last year at a "Unite The Right Rally" in Charlottesville, VA.
That's when white supremacists who were protesting the city's plan to remove a Confederate monument clashed with counter-protesters. Video from the event showed a man who ploughed his car through a crowd of people. Heyer was killed in the incident.
Her mother, Susan Bro, was in Greensboro Monday as part of the Charlottesville Civil Rights Pilgrimage making its way across the country's south to the Equal Justice Initiative's National Memorial for Peace and Justice, also known as the Lynching Memorial Museum, in Montgomery Alabama,
Susan chatted with WFMY News 2's Maddie Gardner about the year since her daughter was killed, what comes next and her thoughts on a "not guilty" plea from the alleged killer.
"It's been an emotional rollercoaster. I was determined to pick up where my daughter left off, pick up where she could no longer move forward and I would learn and grow as an activist myself," said Bro.
"I had always been a quiet activist, a one-on-one kind of activist. I definitely learned a lot about myself on the way so now my job is to continue sharing the truth and helping people to realize and see."
One of Susan's final thoughts: "There is no place for hate and we can only move forward as we acknowledge our past."
Acknowledging the past is exactly the mission of the Charlottesville Civil Rights Pilgrimage which began on Sunday, July 8. 100 people from Charlottesville are on the pilgrimage to the memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.
They are marking the 120th anniversary of the lynching of a Charlottesville man named John Henry James. The lynching happened on July 12, 1898, in Albemarle County, just 4 miles west of Charlottesville. According to historical accounts, James was accused of assault by a white woman named Julia Hotopp and was being transported to jail ahead of his court appearance. A lynch-mob waylaid the train at a station, took James off, tied a rope to his neck and hanged him. The mob then shot him several times, dismembered his body for souvenirs. None of the culprits was brought to book.
Activists identified the location of the lynching and the group on the pilgrimage is taking soil from the site to the Lynching Memorial Museum. That's where a slab representing James's lynching would be added to the exhibition which honors the lives of more than 4000 African American's while recognizing their horrific deaths in the hands of lynch mobs.
As they head to Montgomery, the group made stops in other cities impacted by racial tensions. Greensboro's civil right's legacy made it a significant stop and the group learned a lot about how the city's dealt with pains of the past.
"There is a very clear correlation with what happened in Charlottesville and what happened here in Greensboro. Hearing about the 1979 events where 5 people were murdered and really trying to understand what happened there," said Andrea Douglas, one of the conveners of the Charlottesville Civil Rights Pilgrimage.
Douglas referred to the November 3, 1979 incident in Greensboro when members of The Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party fired on protesters with the Communist Workers' Party who were chanting 'Death To The Klan'. The group learned about that incident on their first stop of the day at the Beloved Community Center, where Co-Executive Directors Rev. Nelson Johnson and Joyce Johnson explained Greensboro's Truth & Reconciliation Process created in 2004 as a response to the 1979 massacre.
The group also stopped at the International Civil Rights Museum to see the Woolworth's lunch counter and learn about the sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement.
"There is a way in which our community and many other communities don't have the kind of grasp on American history that even allows them to understand what happened in Charlottesville," added Douglas.
Alongside stops in Charlotte, NC, other iconic stops on the trip include The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia and The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.