'Enough About Heritage': GOP Descendant of Jefferson Davis Makes Mark in Vote to Take Down Confederate Flag
It is a descendant of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America, who gets the credit for turning the tide in an early morning South Carolina House debate over the future of the Confederate flag flying on the front lawn of the state capitol.
South Carolina State House member Jenny Horne’s (R) late-night emotional plea came during a stormy 13-hour legislative session.
“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,” Horne said while fighting back tears on the floor of the State House.
“If any of you vote to amend,” she continued, “you will ensure that this flag will continue to fly. 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.”
Sen. Clementa Pinckney was the first to be killed in the June 17 shooting inside the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C.
The State House decision to pull down the Confederate flag from the state capitol followed an intense debate the day before in the Senate.
“The South Carolina Senate today rose to this historic occasion, with a large majority of members from both parties coming together in the spirit of unity and healing that is binding our state back together and moving us forward in the right direction,” said South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R).
But it was also evident that some minds will never be changed.
Randy Burbage, a past commander of the South Carolina division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, called the Senate vote “a tragic decision for the history of the state.”
“There’s a sudden onslaught of historic genocide of everything Confederate,” Burbage told the Post and Courier.
The hyperbolic drive to pull down Confederate flags across the nation, as well as in South Carolina, was the result of the massacre that claimed the lives of Sen. Pinckney and eight others.
Some in the South Carolina legislature, like Burbage, argued it was a mistake to tie the Confederate flag to that crime.
“To remove the flag from the Statehouse grounds, and think it would change history, would be like removing a tattoo from the corpse of a loved one and thinking that would change a loved one’s obituary,” said Sen. Harvey Peeler (R).
Following the 94-20 House vote, Gov. Haley proclaimed, “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.”
Columbia, S.C., Mayor Steve Benjamin said removing the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds was about more than a banner of cloth.
“It’s about the hope that now, 150 years after the end of the Civil War, we have grown beyond our differences and have begun to grow together,” Benjamin said.
“This is not the end of division, of prejudice or of hate. But it is the beginning of something new and if we can hold on to it and to each other, if we can nurture that hope and help it grow, then we will have something more precious than a history. We will have a future.”
However, while Hillary Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — the House vote coming on his 60th birthday — and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) were telling South Carolina officials they had done the right thing, the Stars and Bars were flying again outside the Marion County government complex in Florida.
One week after the Marion County interim county administrator — swept up in the tidal wave of emotion following that bloody night in the Mother Emanuel church — pulled down the Confederate flag, it has reappeared.
The Marion County Board of Commissioners overruled Bill Kauffman’s decision to pull down the Confederate flag, and it was flying again, minutes later.
The Confederate flag is one of five flags outside the county government complex, all of which have flown over Florida during the past five centuries. The others are Spanish, French, British and American flags.
“The fact remains it is part of our common and shared history," Marion County resident John Horrigh told reporters as the flag was again raised. "History is not always pretty, but it remains as our history. It's back where it should be."