After the horrific attack, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said, “We’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.” But one look at the flag flying just outside the state’s capitol building would give the governor a huge clue.
Proponents of the flag assert it represents southern heritage and pride, but for many others, particularly African Americans, the stars and bars of the Confederate States of America signifies the bad old days of slavery, segregation, and race-based terror.
In 2000, more than 50,000 people flooded the streets of South Carolina’s capital to demand the flag be removed from the top of the statehouse. Under extreme pressure, the state legislature reached a compromise to have the flag relocated to the Confederate soldier’s monument, but it is housed on the capitol grounds.
Back in 2014, Gov. Haley said the debate over the Confederate flag was a “non-issue,” but the recent Charleston church attack has reignited the debate.
— liza sabater (@blogdiva) June 19, 2015
— SPLC (@splcenter) June 18, 2015
— BlackLivesMatter (@lifeandmorelife) June 18, 2015
— britni danielle (@BritniDWrites) June 19, 2015
“Take down the flag. Take it down now. Move forward. Abandon this charlatanism. Move forward. Do it now.” http://t.co/SlCuI3Wge9
— Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisicoates) June 18, 2015
President Obama believes the flag, which is a symbol of the rouge nation that seceded from the U.S. and lost the Civil War, belongs in a museum, not at South Carolina’s statehouse.
Although it promises to be a tough fight, South Carolina House of Representatives member Doug Brannon said he’ll introduce a bill to remove the flag from government property.
“I had a friend die for no reason at all except he was a Black man,” Rep. Brannon told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “Senator [Clementa Pinckney] was an incredible human being. I don’t want to talk politics, but I’m going to introduce the bill for that reason.”
Rep. Brannon says he will pre-file the bill in December before the South Carolina House of Representatives goes back into session.