South Carolina continues to fly the Confederate flag. Hundreds of thousands of people have a problem with that.
Image via Flickr user Ken Lund
After the horrific massacre of nine black churchgoers at Emanuel AME Church on Wednesday, speeches were given, donations were made, and vigils were held. But while state governments throughout the country lowered their flags, one flag stayed raised high above it all: the Confederate flag, pitched right outside of South Carolina’s State House. Due to the flag being a symbol of hatred and bigotry for so many, MoveOn.org released a petition to take it down. In just a little over 24 hours, it’s collected over 334,000 signatures—and that number is rising, fast.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley defended her decision to keep the flag flying, arguing that it was out of her hands. In order to take it down, she would have to defer to the General Assembly, who would then need a two-thirds vote. But MoveOn, and thousands of people tweeting under #takedownthatflag, thinks the governor is hiding behind a flimsy excuse. They don’t just want South Carolina to lower their flag—they want it taken down. From the petition: “Symbols of hate have no place in our government. The Confederate flag is not a symbol of southern pride but rather a symbol of rebellion and racism.”
Image via Wikimedia
Some petitioners acknowledge that they still have a long ways to go before the flag is finally removed. The Confederate flag not only flies over South Carolina, it also remains part of Mississippi’s state flag. In 2013, a poll showed that 61 percent of South Carolinians approved of the Confederate flag, including 73 percent of whites. But times are changing and outrage, growing. Flags are more than just cotton and polyester—they’re speech and they’re symbols. As NAACP President Cornell Brooks says of the Confederate flag, the time has come for “that symbol to come down.”