In August 2017, amidst a wave of white nationalist protestors holding a rally and counter-protestors preaching equality, 32-year-old Heather Heyer was mowed to death by James Fields, a white supremacist. The third episode on Netflix’s ‘Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies and the Internet’ shines a light on the case and the circumstances surrounding what happened. In the aftermath, Heather’s mother, Susan Bro, became an unlikely activist who firmly kept the focus on the racial divide in the country. So, if you want to learn more about her, here’s what we know.
Who is Susan Bro?
Until that fateful day in August 2017, Susan had an everyday life and followed a certain routine. She worked as an administrative assistant in Greene County, Virginia, and spent time with her family, regularly visiting her parents. But Susan’s life was forever changed after learning that Heather was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a protest against a white supremacist rally.
Susan mentioned that her family had “always, our entire lives, been on the bottom end of the middle class, with not much hope of rising above that.” So, when she first learned about white privilege, she quickly dismissed it and added, “I was like, ‘I’m not privileged. I’m poor. I’ve struggled.'” But her conversations with Heather and some of her black friends made her understand how different it was for non-white people in the USA.
Susan said, “I think it’s a damn shame that a white girl had to die for people to have to pay attention. I think if a black girl had died, or a black man, [the reaction would have been] ‘Oh well, another person lost to violent protest.'” Then, in the days after Heather’s death, Susan mentioned not being interested in taking then-President Trump’s phone call. That was because she had seen the news where he talked about “very fine people” on both sides of these protests.
Instead, Susan turned her attention to the donations coming in from all over the world. As a result, she co-founded the Heather Heyer Foundation. The organization awards scholarships to students who push for social justice peacefully. Over the years, Susan has continued to speak out and give several interviews, saying the press brought her cause more attention. She said in 2019, “We have a hate problem in this country. That’s where the focus needs to be. Not on Heather. Not on her death. There were about 40 people injured in that car attack, and everybody focuses on Heather.”
Where is Susan Bro Now?
Today, Susan Bro serves as the President and the Board Chair of the Heather Heyer Foundation. For 2022, ten $1000 scholarships are being provided. Apart from that, the foundation has supported other non-profit groups, and in 2019, started a program along with another organization to push for youth empowerment among high school children. This had to stop in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before working at the foundation and as an administrative assistant, Susan was a teacher for 18 years. Over the past few years, she has traveled around the country and shared her daughter’s story.
Susan also resolved to use the media attention to provide an avenue for others. She added, “So what I’m doing is using it (press attention) to bring attention to others who don’t have that platform and giving them a platform, handing the mic, and bringing attention to their issues as well. Heather got justice, but a lot of mothers don’t.” Susan currently lives in Virginia, with the office of her foundation located in Charlottesville at Heather’s old office. Besides the foundation, Susan enjoys knitting, crocheting, and spending time with her grandchildren. She’s happily married to Heather’s stepfather.