South Carolina Senate Votes To Take Down Confederate Flag, House Vote Still Needed

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

Following the murder of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, allegedly at the hands of a white supremacist, lawmakers and activists from across the political spectrum rallied to take down the Confederate flag.

South Carolina is now one step closer to removing the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds. On July 6, the South Carolina Senate voted 37 to 3 to take down the flag, which many believe is a symbol of racism and prejudice against black Americans.

Though the bill still needs to be passed by the state House and Gov. Nikki Haley, Haley has pledged her support for the measure, The Associated Press reported.

“We now have the opportunity, the obligation to put the exclamation point on an extraordinary narrative of good and evil, of love and mercy that will take its place in the history books," said Sen. Tom Davis, a Republican from Beaufort.

This vote comes less than a week after the 15th anniversary of South Carolina removing the flag from the Capitol building’s dome. It was placed on a monument honoring Confederate soldiers, where is still flies.

The South Carolina Senate also rejected an amendment that would allow the flag to be flown on Confederate Memorial Day, which is May 10, and a measure to leave the flag’s fate to a popular vote. Republican state Sen. Lee Bright, who suggested the popular vote, acknowledged that the Confederate flag has been used by people like Dylann Roof, the alleged church shooter. 

"I'm more against taking it down in this environment than any other time just because I believe we're placing the blame of what one deranged lunatic did on the people that hold their Southern heritage high,” Bright said.

It’s likely the House will pass the measure to remove the Confederate flag. A survey of South Carolina lawmakers by The Post and Courier newspaper, the South Carolina Press Association and The Associated Press found that 83 House members said they agreed with the call to remove the flag, which satisfies the two-thirds majority required by law. The flag could be removed as early as July 9.

State Sen. Reverend Clementa Pinckney could not vote on the measure — he was one of the nine victims in the attack on the historically black church. His senate desk remains draped in black, Reuters reported.

Sources: The Associated Press, Reuters, South Carolina Legislature

Image Credit: eyeliam/Flickr