A year ago this August, the country watched in horror as a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned deadly when one of the ralliers drove a car into a group of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring several others.
For Susan Bro, the horror was personal: The woman killed was her daughter, Heather Heyer, who had gone to the protest to oppose white nationalism.
After Heyer was killed, money poured in from well-wishers. With help from her associates, Bro set up a foundation in Heyer’s name. The Heather Heyer Foundation has spent the past year granting scholarships and working with groups like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, as well as supporting social-justice causes such as the youth-run group Higher Voices, which the foundation helped set up earlier this year.
I spoke with Bro earlier this week about how her life has changed since Heyer’s death, and how she thinks the country has dealt with the resurgence of white-nationalist groups in the past few years.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
How has your life changed over the past year?
Well, let me explain just how my life was before, and then I’ll explain how my life is now. So of course these two weeks are kind of distorted because of the intense, intense, intense schedule. But before, I’d had a regular nine-to-five job, and was home for lunch every day—actually eight-to-five, ’cause I had an hour off for lunch. State benefits, state insurance, no weekends, no evenings, and before that I was a schoolteacher. Grandmother of eight, and married five years ago almost. Lived together for the last eight years, and we kind of had a life of routine: We’d see the grandkids once a month and see my parents once a month, and I did knitting and crocheting and gardening, and we’d meet Heather a couple times a month for dinner … and that was my life.