Tears and lamentations from Confederate flag supporters at lowering ceremony in South Carolina
There were teary eyes in the otherwise exuberant crowd at the South Carolina statehouse on Friday when it was time for the Confederate flag to come down.
The flag, first raised in 1961, was taken down in honor of nine African-American churchgoers who were massacred on June 17 by a racist. Dylann Roof, 21, has been charged with the hate crime.
“To watch it come down — even though I’m from North Carolina, I feel like I’m representing,” a distraught Brandy Burgess told local WISTV. “It hurts to watch it come down knowing that people think this is a good thing in history, when to me it feels like we’re going backwards.”
Burgess insisted the Confederate flag is a symbol of “Southern pride,” not hate. She said she was crying before the flag started to descend.
“It started coming down and I felt like part of my heart broke,” she said. “And when it did, everyone that was chanting ‘USA’ and all that, it felt like they were slapping me in the face. Me and my whole family.”
These statements are contradicted by the experiences of the likes of Congressman John Lewis, an activist during the Civil Rights movement who was beaten with other marchers by police in 1965 during a voting rights march.
“We need not continue to plant these seeds in the minds of our people,” he said during a speech in Congress about the flag. “When I was marching across that bridge in Selma in 1965, I saw some of the law officers — Sheriff’s deputies, wearing on their helmet the Confederate flag. I don’t want to go back. And as a country we cannot go back.”
Lewis and hundreds of others were attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery when they were attacked by officers and white civilian men deputized by officials. Marchers were beaten so brutally the day was dubbed “Bloody Sunday.”
In June, ugly violence recalling the Civil Rights era reared its head when a white supremacist attacked landmark black church Emanuel AME, opening fire on a Bible study and massacring nine unarmed African-American churchgoers.
State Senator and civil rights activist Clementa Pinckney was one of those killed, and pictures of his body lying near the still-flying Confederate flag at the South Carolina statehouse galled many.
Roof, the accused Charleston shooter, had posted many pictures online of himself posing with the Confederate flag.
Even though the flag has been lowered, a chapter of the KKK plans to hold a pro-Confederate flag rally at the statehouse next Saturday.