South Carolina Clears Last Hurdle To Remove Confederate Flag From Statehouse

Oliver VanDervoort

The South Carolina House of Representatives has officially voted to remove the Confederate flag from the state house grounds. This vote was the final hurdle in what has been a weeks long process for a state that was the first to secede from the Union during the very beginning of the Civil War. South Carolina actually put the Confederate back up, over 50 years ago, in order to protest the growing civil rights movement.

South Carolina's move to finally take down the Confederate flag came after a lengthy 13-hour debate that finished up early Thursday morning. "South Carolina can remove the stain from our lives," said 64-year-old Rep. Joe Neal, a black Democrat first elected in 1992. "I never thought in my lifetime I would see this." The removal of the Confederate flag started really speeding down the tracks on Monday when the state Senate passed a measure calling for it to be taken down.

There were some who wondered whether or not the South Carolina House would hold the measure up for one reason or another. Arguments have been made since support for the endeavor began that the Confederate flag is an important part of the state's history and doesn't stand for racism or slavery. These arguments were being made against facts including the most obvious ones surrounding why the Confederate flag started flying at the statehouse in South Carolina again in the 1960s.

After the lengthy debate, the House overwhelmingly supported the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse 94-20. Governor Nikki Haley, who has been publicly stating her support for taking it down, (a reversal of her position from just six months ago) issued a statement where she trumpeted the vote.

"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," Haley said.

The bill now goes to Haley's desk, where she is expected to sign it quickly. Despite that expectation, the South Carolina governor didn't give a timetable on her signature or when the Confederate flag would be coming down. It would seem to behoove the state to take action quickly as debate over delay has already been defeated. Some state legislators had called for passage of the bill, but moved slowly when it came to final action. That strategy was called something "unbefitting" South Carolina, with some saying that the Confederate flag must be removed as quickly as possible.

[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]