Early Thursday morning the South Carolina State House voted to remove the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds just weeks after the horrific shooting of nine Black church members reinvigorated the decades old fight to remove the symbol of Southern insurrection, slavery and white supremacy via Jim Crow.
Following the shooting at Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley immediately called for the removal of the flag from the State House but the measure was taken to the representatives of the people via the State House and Senate of South Carolina.
Republican Representative Jenny Horne, a descendant of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, gave a heartfelt and tearful speech in which she implored fellow Republicans to stop stalling and get the measure passed.
Though the Confederate Battle Flag was used during the Civil War, it has flown over the State House in South Carolina since 1961 as protest against the Civil Rights Movement. Although many politicians, both liberal and conservative, praise the removal of the flag as the eradication of a divisive symbol there were 20 people who voted against removing the flag.
One of them is Republican State Representative Mike Pitts, who is vehemently opposed to the removal and was a key figure in stalling the measure for as long as it stalled thanks to dozens of amendments he tried to add to the House Bill.
“I grew up with that flag, the current flag, being almost a symbol of reverence, because of my family’s service in that war,” Pitts told NBC News. “It was not a racial issue.”
After a 13 hour debate the Senate overwhelming passed the House version of the bill by a 94-20 vote.
The flag will be removed 24 hours after Governor Nikki Haley signs the bill.
At that point the Confederate Battle Flag will be placed in the Confederate Relic Room in the State House. Though many in the state of South Carolina have let out a roar of celebration at the hope of a new age dawning in the Palmetto State, white supremacy isnt just about a flag.
Its about a system of doing things that subjugate and take advantage of a group of people based upon race. Until the prison industrial complex, educational system and law enforcement follows suit, the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina is more symbolic than pragmatic.
“South Carolina can remove the stain from our lives,” said 64-year-old Rep. Joe Neal, a black Democrat first elected in 1992. “I never thought in my lifetime I would see this.”