The South Carolina House of Representatives voted last night (July 8) to take the Confederate flag down from state grounds.
The vote, which is at the center of a national controversy over the flag’s symbolism, was the last required legislative step before the bill goes to the state’s governor Nikki Haley, who has already said she would sign it. If she does so promptly, the flag could be taken down as soon as Friday.
Demands to remove the flag took on new force after white supremacist Dylann Roof shot and killed 9 people in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. He was seen wielding the flag in a series of online images.
The issue has been particularly contentious for legislators in South Carolina, a state where many citizens revere their Confederate roots. A state senator and pastor, Clementa Pinckney, was among those killed in the shooting.
Republican representative Jenny Horne, a descendent of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, gave an emotional address before the vote, admonishing her party colleagues for delaying the vote with amendments: “For the widow of Sen. Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury and I will not be a part of it!”
The House vote was 94-20 to take down the flag, which was raised over 50 years ago as a protest by the segregationist state government against the civil rights movement.
“South Carolina can remove the stain from our lives,” said representative Joe Neal, a black Democrat. “I never thought in my lifetime I would see this.”