It's official: South Carolina will be taking down the Confederate flag this Friday.
After a vibrant and interminable debate on the State House floor, the South Carolina House of Representatives voted 94-20 to remove the flag from the capitol grounds. The move came one day after an impassioned plea from Republican Jenny Horne, who told fellow lawmakers would be adding "insult to injury" to the families of the Charleston victims if they decided to further delay the vote. Rep. Horne is a descendant of the Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Debate had dragged on this week as supporters of the flag proposed numerous amendments, effectively delaying the measure. Then, Rep. Horne took the podium. What began as a measured statement quickly transformed into a stirring exhortation to moral action. Tearing up, but also with a great deal of force, she said:
"I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful, such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on Friday. And if any of you vote to amend, you are ensuring that this flag will fly beyond Friday. And for the widow of Sen. [Clementa] Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury, and I will not be a part of it."
Those in favor of keeping the flag had argued primarily on the basis of a respect for southern heritage. But Horne, whose southern credentials are virtually unrivaled, countered that view. She implied that patriotic perceptions of the rebel flag are irrelevant here, since its presence on state grounds is a gross offence to those families affected by the deadly Charleston shootings — and for that matter, to African-Americans throughout the state.
"I'm sorry, I have heard enough about heritage. I have a heritage. I am a lifelong South Carolinian. I am a descendent of Jefferson Davis, okay. But that does not matter. It's not about Jenny Horne. It's about the people of South Carolina who have demanded that this symbol of hate come off of the State House grounds."
Governor Nikki Haley will sign the bill at 4 pm EST in her office. The flag will then be taken down on Friday at 10 am EST.