The Confederate flag flying over the South Carolina Statehouse is coming down. At 4:00 pm today, healing South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) is scheduled to ceremonially sign the bill that will remove the flag. This symbol of Confederate resistance was raised over the South Carolina State Capitol during the 1960′s as a symbol of the state’s resistance to the Civil Rights Movement. To be more specific, the state raised this Confederate symbol in 1961 as a symbolic gesture expressing the state’s disdain for the American movement which desegregated schools and other public and private accommodations, and ended legalized discrimination against African Americans in areas including housing, lending, and employment. That symbol has flown over South Carolina’s Statehouse for over 50 years now, as a finger in the eye of not only African American’s in South Carolina, but Americans of all colors and persuasions who believe in equality. But today the flag comes down.
I’ve heard more than a few Americans, Black and White, question the significance of removing that hateful symbol from the Capitol’s grounds. Some thoughtful people have mounted the argument that energies dedicated to removing that flag would be better directed at causes that would have more immediate tangible impact on the condition of people of color in South Carolina. But I believe South Carolina Governor Haley put it best in saying of the flag’s placement at the state capitol, “it should have never been there …These grounds are a place that everybody should feel a part of. What I realized now more than ever is people were driving by and felt hurt and pain. No one should feel pain.”
Taking that flag down at the South Carolina capitol means parents and teachers in South Carolina will no longer have to try to explain to children why such a hurtful symbol flies over their Statehouse in the year 2015. So I for one am ecstatic that the flag, raised to symbolize South Carolina’s resistance to protecting the rights of African Americans, is now coming down. Unfortunately, it took the recent tragedy at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston to bring us to this point, but it’s coming down today. It’s about time.