CHARLESTON, South Carolina - On 10 July 2015 during a historic ceremony, the Confederate flag which had flown full mast at the the South Carolina Statehouse for 50 years despite numerous efforts to have it removed. It was a symbol of defiance from a sect of people who protested against the Civil Rights movement and integration of all public facilities, including schools and transportation.
It was because of the heinous act of violence perpetrated by Dylann Roof, 21, that the groundswell of pressure from local, state, and national entities forced the government to respond. "Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill Thursday, 9 July 2015 to relegate the Confederate flag to the state's "relic room."
19 June 2015 - Dylann Roof, 21, has been identified as the assailant who allegedly sat and prayed during a fellowship meeting Wednesday night at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. Survivors recount how Roof with malice aforethought shot and killed nine people inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, near the heart of Charleston's tourist district. Eight died at the scene; a ninth died at a hospital.
According to CNN and other news outlets, six women and three men were killed, including the church's politically active pastor, State Senator Clementa Pinckney, a black Democratic lawmaker. The lone survivor who pretended to be dead, confided in her friend afterwards, that Roof shouted long espoused racists rhetoric along the lines of black men raping white women and taking over the country presumably in reference to the first African-American President Barak Obama.
A law enforcement official said witnesses told authorities the gunman stood up and said he was there "to shoot black people” and subsequent investigations into Roof’s background revealed that he possessed racists memorabilia, and expressed Confederate sympathies, though it is not clear that he officially belong to any white supremacists groups.
For the family and friends of the nine people Roof murdered in a racist and premeditated act of violence, the trauma is just beginning and our hearts and prayers go out to them. There are many different national news outlets discussing, analyzing, and updating American citizens on the latest developments in the case. But, a less discussed, but equally important aspect of this case is the climate of racism in the heart of South Carolina’s government as demonstrated in its choice to continue to fly the Confederate Flag above the South Carolina State House.
According to Schuyler Kropf, “Officials said the reason why the flag has not been touched is that its status is outlined, by law, as being under the protected purview of the full S.C. Legislature, which controls if and when it comes down.
State law reads, in part, the state “shall ensure that the flags authorized above shall be placed at all times as directed in this section and shall replace the flags at appropriate intervals as may be necessary due to wear.”
The protection was added by supporters of the flag to keep it on display as an officially recognized memorial to South Carolinians who fought in the Civil War. Opponents say it defends a system that supported slavery and represents hate groups.” (Source: Post and Courier)
What many people don’t understand, and almost certainly those unfamiliar with the history of slavery in America, is the magnitude of racism and oppression that this flag represents. It connotes the same venomous hatred and violence towards blacks as the white robe and hood of the KKK. It is the heart and soul and standard-bearer to those who proudly proclaim that “the South will rise again!” A “South” where blacks were kept in their place, preferably enslaved or at least subjugated, where enforcement of Jim Crow statues were meted out by members of a number of white supremacists groups, most notably the Klu Klux Klan (KKK).
At a time when South Carolinians are shocked and appalled at the calculated massacre perpetrated in the name of white power, one would think that the State House would have the decency to remove or at least lower the Confederate Flag to half-staff as were the U.S. and S.C. flags. Nationally, states and the federal government lowered the flag to express solidarity with the victims and sadness at the horror. But, the most recognizable emblem of the Confederacy, KKK, white supremacists and their politics, towered proudly above even the U.S. flag, the flag of the American nation.
This obvious display was a not so subtle assertion that the racially motivated massacres were unimportant and not worthy of acknowledgment. That in fact, State Senator Pinckney’s life was of no value, that all attempts to remove this racist symbol will continue to fail, and that Confederate sympathizers and white supremacists have a chance to return to the halcyon days of old. An obstinately proud symbol of the time when the Confederacy legislated that blacks deserved no honor, no justice, and no acknowledgement.
It is unfathomable that this emblem of racism cannot be removed or lowered without a legislative vote. This is the time when black and white South Carolinians should stand up not only for justice for the victims, but should also demand the removal of this symbol of oppression and domestic terrorism which is displayed in their name. To remain silent is tantamount to tacit approval, and ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke