The South Carolina House approved a bill to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds following weeks of intense debate over its significance and its place at the capitol.
The flag has become the center of a nationwide debate following the racially-motivated murders of nine African Americans by a white supremacist in Charleston last month. Now the Confederate flag is set to be taken down once the bill reaches Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who came out in full support of the flag's removal following the Charleston church shooting, the Huffington Post reports.
The Senate bill was approved by a two-thirds margin in the House, with a 94-20 vote.
Opponents of the flag’s removal argued against the idea that its original association was to slavery and racism, saying that it had been “hijacked” by racists and was meant to be a symbol of southern heritage.
Democratic state Rep. Joe Neal was among many in favor of removal, and he argued against the heritage claim.
“The whole world is asking, is South Carolina really going to change, or will it hold to an ugly tradition of prejudice and discrimination and hide behind heritage as an excuse for it,” Neal said.
Following House approval, Haley released a statement applauding the decision.
“It is a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state,” the statement read.
The decision came following 13 hours of debate and marked a significant moment in the state’s history.
“South Carolina can remove the stain from our lives,” Neal said. “I never thought in my lifetime I would see this.”
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