Earlier today South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill ordering the removal of the Confederate battle flag that is currently flying near the state Capitol in Columbia, South Carolina.
COLUMBIA — Using 13 pens — nine for the families of the victims of the Charleston church killings last month — Gov. Nikki Haley on Thursday signed a historic measure that will remove the Statehouse’s Confederate battle flag
The flag will be lowered tomorrow morning at 10:00am and taken to a museum in Columbia, South Carolina. It’s about time. While some folks claim it’s a part of their heritage to me it represents hate, oppression and defiance against civil rights.
Haley was surrounded by the relatives, dozens of lawmakers, three former South Carolina governors and civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson, as she signed the bill on the second floor of the Capitol under the dome from which the Confederate flag had flown for decades. Lawmakers broke into applause when Haley finished signing the bill.
Haley and political, business and community leaders statewide had called for removing the flag amid the mourning for the nine churchgoers, including pastor and state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, slain by a white gunman at Emanuel AME Church in what authorities have called a racially motivated hate crime.
The bill passed the South Carolina Senate by a vote of 36-3. But when it moved to the House there was strong resistance. As expected some members talked about how the flag was a part of their heritage and of course it had nothing to do with slavery. But then a miracle happened. House member Jenny Horne insisted that her House colleagues approve the bill for the families of the nine victims. Jenny Horne is a descendant of Jefferson Davis.
The 42-year-old lawyer from Summerville stepped up to the podium and delivered words so raw and impassioned they would immediately go viral on the Internet. More important, her four-minute speech would alter the course of the debate, and with it, South Carolina history. The state where the Civil War began, where Strom Thurmond presided as governor, and father of the segregationist Dixiecrats, a state steeped proudly in history and its symbols, disavowed the most freighted symbol of them all, the Confederate flag.
“I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on Friday,” Horne said, shouting through tears. “For the widow of Senator Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury.”
Horne’s fiery speech, bolstered by her reminder that Confederate president Jefferson Davis was her ancestor, injected new energy into what appeared to be a flagging take-down-the-flag faction and helped pave the way for a 1 a.m. vote to remove the flag from the state capitol.
Amazingly, Horne said her powerful words were not planned.
“At that point we were losing the vote. It was going south,” she told The Washington Post in an interview shortly after the historic vote. “If what I did changed the course of the debate, and I do believe it did, then it needed to be done. Because that flag needed to come down a long time ago.”
“That flag needed to come down a long time ago.” Alright Jenny Horne. I know she pissed off some folks 🙂
Jenny Horne wasn’t finished:
Her voice hoarse from shouting, Horne told The Post she was simply fed up with the obstructionist tactics from members of her own Republican Party.
“I thought the stall tactics were childish,” she said. “It turned into an endurance contest and we spent I don’t know how many hours doing something that the Senate did in a fraction of the time and I, quite frankly, was insulted.
“We had spent an entire day trying to slow this bill down and bog it down and force it to conference committee and drag this debate out for weeks and weeks and weeks, and I had just decided that it was time that somebody stood up and said what was the real issue here.
“The real issue is that that flag is a symbol of hate and it’s on a public ground where people, the entire state, they own that state house,” she continued. “That is public property. And to me, if that flag offends a percentage of our citizenry, including the people in Charleston, then we owed it to them to act in accordance with the Senate to take it down in a unified fashion.”
Check out her speech in this video.
Thank you for speaking up Jenny Horne.