As the nation mourned the nine victims of the Charleston shooting last week, a symbol of the country's dark racial history continued flying high outside South Carolina's Capitol building. But the anger that it provoked in the wake of the shooting may signal the beginning of its end — on Monday, after the debate surrounding its removal gained unprecedented momentum over the past week, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley demanded the Confederate flag's removal.
After a 21-year-old white man, Dylann Roof, allegedly shot nine African-Americans to death in a historic Black church in a horrific hate crime, the blatant display of a flag that symbolized Black oppression angered many. Roof had brandished the flag in widely circulated pictures: on Facebook, he donned the flags of apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia as symbols of his white supremacist values.
There is a growing chorus of lawmakers calling for its removal, joined on Monday by Hayley. Sen. Lindsey Graham is expected to do the same. President Obama, who delivered a somber statement on the shooting last week, said that the flag belonged "in a museum."
This comes amid protests in the state that began over the weekend to demand its removal. Further protests are planned for Tuesday, when the South Carolina General Assembly convenes.
A larger version of the flag, long a rallying symbol for the Civil War era, pro-slavery South, was placed on the Capitol dome from 1962 to 2000. After protests by civil rights activists, the Confederate flag was transferred to a monument outside the statehouse. But perhaps last week's racial massacre will finally wake the state up to the need for its removal.