2015-JUL-06: The South Carolina Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to remove the Confederate flag:
The Senate voted overwhelmingly to remove the Confederate Flag from the grounds of the capitol building, The bill was launched by a bipartisan group of Senators was passed with a vote of 37 to 3 by the Senate that is composed mainly of Republicans.
The flag continues to be revered by many white people even as it is considered to be a symbol of slavery, racism, oppression, and segregation by most black people. Senator Darrell Jackson, who is African American, said:
"When I see a Confederate soldier, I don’t get goose bumps and feel all warm and fuzzy. I respect the fact that you do. All I’m saying is, you can’t force all of us to have a passion that some of you have about certain things." 5
Before the vote on the main bill, a number of amendments that would have weakened it were defeated. One would have authorized the flag to be flown once a year on Confederate Memorial Day.
During the vote, the desk of Rev. Clementa Pinckney (D), the Senator who was killed in the church shooting, was draped in black.
The lead sponsor of the bill, Senator Vincent Sheheen (D), said:
"I do think that it sends a very loud and clear message to the House of Representatives that there is support, momentum, consensus, and I think it helps us clear the hurdles that we need to in the House of Representatives." 6
The State Police said that they were investigating a series of threats against South Carolina legislators who were on both sides of the issue.
The bill required a two-thirds majority vote in the House in order to pass. The vote was expected on JUL-08.
2015-JUL-08/09: South Carolina House passes bill:
State Rep. Michael A. Pitts (R) planned to introduced at least 25 amendments in an attempt to slow down deliberation in the House. House rules call for 20 minutes of debate per referendum. South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D) referred to it as:
"... filibuster by amendment."
If the bill was passed with as few as one amendment, then the bill would have to return to the Senate for a second vote. Many legislators were anxious that this not happen so that the bill could be forwarded to the Governor quickly with minimum delay.
After more than 13 hours of debate which started on JUL-08 and lasted until early JUL-09, the House passed the bill by a vote of 94 to 20. This is an 82% majority vote that is well in excess of the two-thirds majority needed. The bill now heads to Governor Nikki Haley (R) who had five days to sign or veto the bill. The bill requires that the flag be removed within 24 hours of her signing.
Rep. Joe Neal, (D) who is black and was first elected in 1992, said:
"South Carolina can remove the stain from our lives. I never thought in my lifetime I would see this." 7
After the vote, Governor Haley said:
"Today, as the Senate did before them, the House of Representatives has served the State of South Carolina and her people with great dignity. I'm grateful for their service and their compassion. 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." 7
Governor Haley signed the bill into law at about 4:15 PM EDT time on JUN-09. She signed her signature in thirteen segments using thirteen pens. Nine of the pens will go to the families of the nine victims in the church shooting. She gave two to former governors in South Carolina who were present at the signing ceremony. She retained two for her own use. 8
The article quoting Rep. Joe Neal,7 that is referred to above appeared on Yahoo! News. It was written circa 4 AM on JUL-09 and received 11,553 comments by 7 PM on the same day! Two comments say it all:
"Skip" posted: "The flag of traitors who KILLED SOUTH CAROLINA CITIZENS fighting for their freedom should never be honored."
"james" posted: "A dead time symbolizing dead out-of-date beliefs..if everyone went by what that flag symbolized, woman would not have rights, blacks would be slaves, and everyone outside of a white man would be treated like dirt. Some people would love that but make no mistake of what the heritage and beliefs of the flag stands for. There are plenty of ways to present southern heritage other than a flag that has been used, and adopted by hate groups to intimidate. If you want to fly the flag on your truck or home that's your personal preference.. But to fly it over a government building that is supposed to symbolize equality is just stupid when the flag's history says the exact opposite." 7
2015-JUL-07: The House of Representatives in Congress vote on the use of the rebel flag:
The House passed an amendment that prohibits the display of the Confederate flag over graves at federal cemeteries. The bill then went to the Senate for a vote.
In the past, the National Park Service permitted the placing of rebel flags on the graves of Confederate soldiers during Confederate Memorial Day. However, they had been removed quickly after the holiday.
The amendment was introduced by Rep. Jared Huffman, (D) who said:
"We can honor ... history without celebrating the Confederate flag and all of the dreadful things that it symbolizes. This House now has an opportunity to add its voice, by ending the promotion of the cruel, racist legacy of the Confederacy." 8