On Thursday, July 9, 2015, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley penned the historic legislation to remove all Confederate flags from state grounds. Following the horrific Charleston massacre on June 17, 2015, which left nine dead, people throughout the nation have been debating about the relevance and racism the Confederate flag emanates as it sits on the front lawn of the South Carolina State House. Though, in the end, the events that have taken place over the last three weeks, according to Haley, are, ” true story of South Carolina.”
Before the Governor spoke, hundreds of state and local lawmakers, citizens, and press media filled the capitol building. Dozens of AME churchgoers lined the back of the of the stage, shaking hands with South Carolina lawmakers before the Governor’s entrance.
As Haley stepped to the dais, all eyes were on her for this historic time in not only South Carolina’s history, but the nation as a whole. She began by saying, “It is hard to look at what has happened today and it is hard to took back to 20 days ago.” This was, “a tragedy we never thought we’d encounter,” she said as room fell silent with great emotion.
While photographers snapped shots of the Governor and reporters were standing in wait, she said the series of events that took place shows, “the true story of South Carolina.” Haley said that, “with true love and true faith and true acceptance, they sat and prayed with him for an hour.” She spoke on the graciousness of the people in the historically black church, and that a person, “who did not look like them,” entered the place of worship and was accepted without any prejudice.
The “Emanuel Nine” were people that possessed a, “love so strong it brought grace to their families and showed them how to forgive, “after the shooter, 20-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, gunned down those who were worshiping on that Wednesday night. The people of, “South Carolina showed what true grace and forgiveness is.” Haley said the families were able to give Roof the forgiveness in their hearts because of the impact of the Emanuel Nine had on them during their lives.
Haley then said this, “act of compassion,” allowed the nation to stopping looking at people’s, “differences and start looking at similarities…we were all feeling the same pain…and took time to understand it.” The Governor explained that in times of great tragedy people come together because they are affected by an event that shocks everyone, not just a single group of people.
As cameras flashed, Haley signed the bill with nine pens that will be given to the families of the Emanuel Nine. Then, after the bill signing was complete, Haley announced, “the flag is coming off the grounds of the South Carolina State House.”
The Governor said South Carolina is a state with, “tradition, history, and respect.” Therefore, the Confederate flag will be removed from the State House grounds, “with dignity and placed where it belongs,” at 10:00 a.m. Friday morning. Haley her announcement by saying, “When emotions start to fade, this is a moment we can be proud of.”
Before leaving the podium, Haley remarked on a feeling she had while giving the speech, a feeling that she has not felt in a while, according to her. She explained this is the first time in the last 20 days since the Charleston massacre that she could say, “Today I am very proud to say it is a great day in South Carolina.” A time of tragedy, a time of compassion, a time of growth, all of which tell the tale of Haley’s true story of South Carolina.
Opinion by Alex Lemieux
Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Photo Courtesy of J. Stephen Conn’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License