At 10:00 AM on Friday, July 10, 2015, the Confederate flag flying before South Carolina’s State House was lowered for the last time. Republican Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill into law on Thursday ordering the controversial flag’s removal. The New York Times reported that the flag will go to the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, and that the flagpole will also be removed.
An emotionally charged national debate
The decision to remove the flag followed a week-long tumultuous and often deeply emotional national debate about what the Confederate flag actually represents and whether it is appropriate to display at all. While many Americans, including 72% of black Americans, view the Confederate flag as a symbol of racial oppression and hatred, others argue that the flag is imbued with alternative meaning: some claim it honors the soldiers, black and white, who fought and died under it in the Civil War; that it is a symbol of Southern heritage and pride; that it represents the “rebel”’ spirit. But after the senseless and racially motivated murders of nine innocent parishioners and the subsequent burnings of at least eight predominantly black churches (only three of which have been ruled to be arson thus far) those arguments have been soundly rejected. National retailers, for instance, including Wal*Mart and Amazon, pulled merchandise bearing the Confederate symbol from their shelves in the days following the horrific shootings.