Symbol of hate, oppression to fade from view

The Confederate flag will no longer wave on South Carolina statehouse grounds. Illustration: Statehouse image from
The Confederate flag will no longer wave on South Carolina statehouse grounds. Illustration: Statehouse image from
The Confederate battle flag, an enduring symbol of hate and oppression, is coming down in South Carolina after a vote by the state’s legislature.

     The South Carolina House of Representatives approved a bill removing the flag from the Capitol grounds by a vote of 93-27 on July 9, according to an Associated Press report. The state Senate had approved the bill July 7. The legislation was signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley, who had called for the flag’s removal in June, after the murder of nine African-Americans in Charleston. 
     “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,” she said in a statement released after the vote.
     The nine African-Americans were shot June 17 while attending a bible study at Emanuel A.M.E. Church. The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, also a state senator, was among the victims. Soon after, photos surfaced of the suspect, Dylann Roof, holding the Confederate battle flag.
     At one point, the battle flag hung from atop the statehouse dome, where it was placed in the early 1960s, theoretically celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Civil War, but also in defiance of the Civil Rights movement. It was moved to the Confederate memorial in front of the statehouse in 2000.
     The battle flag was designed by William Porcher Miles of South Carolina, according to Encyclopedia Virginia online. Miles, a lawyer from Charleston, is listed in the U.S. Congress online guide. He was a congressman until 1860, when he retired and became a member of the Confederate Provisional Congress.
     The Confederate Congress rejected Miles' design as a national flag, but it was used by Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. A modified version of the St. Andrew's cross, the Confederate battle flag did not resemble the American flag and was easily distinguishable by the troops.
      As pointed out by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the battle flag was not associated with South Carolina during the Civil War. “In fact,” he wrote in an op-ed published on his website, “it is the flag that Nathan Bedford Forrest used as a rallying symbol when he founded the Ku Klux Klan, and was popularized by that iconic movie, Gone With the Wind.”
     Most South Carolinians who fought in the Civil War “never fought under that flag,” he added. “Many fought under the Citadel Flag which was similar to our current flag, but with a red rather than blue field, and a white crescent and palmetto tree.”



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