7 Powerful Pictures Capture the Confederate Flag’s Takedown
Fifty-four years of the Confederate flag waving over the South Carolina statehouse in Columbia ended on Friday with a few pulls of a rope—and a crowd of hundreds of onlookers and dignitaries erupted into cheers.
Efforts to get the flag removed were renewed after images of 21-year-old Dylann Roof—the alleged gunman in the June 17 murder of nine black members of a Charleston church—posing with the symbol emerged online. Activist Bree Newsome was arrested 10 days later for scaling the flagpole and removing the banner. Newsome’s actions catalyzed protesters, and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley could no longer ignore the tidal wave of support for taking down the symbol.
So, Why Should You Care? The flag has been championed as a symbol of Southern heritage, but many have recognized it as a symbol of hate and intimidation. Georgia congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis spoke passionately on the House floor on Thursday about how the flag is one of America’s “scars and stains of racism.” Lewis shared his experience being beaten by law enforcement officers wearing helmets emblazoned with the flag as he attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965.
“I don’t want to see our little children, whether they are black or white, Latino, Asian American, or Native American, growing up seeing these signs of division,” Lewis said. “Hate is too heavy a burden to bear. We need not continue to plant these seeds in the minds of our people.”
What was it like to be in Columbia? These seven photos give us a glimpse—and an idea of what we might see if efforts to get the flag taken down in Mississippi next prove successful.
Instagram user Tony Gloster posted a pic of one of the protesters of the flag’s removal.
After the flag’s takedown, film director Channing Godfrey Peoples snapped a pic of three black children sitting against a monument of outspoken white supremacist Benjamin Tillman, who served as a governor and senator for South Carolina more than 100 years ago. “Saw these babies holding this sign and realized that now they don’t have to grow up seeing that divisive flag flying in front of the Capital,” Peoples wrote on Instagram.
The lowering of the flag brought many black and white South Carolinians together. “Made some new friends today!” wrote Instagram user meggyd.
Veterans watched as the flag was taken down.
The flag’s removal was perhaps most meaningful for members of Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church, who looked on as the flag was permanently removed.
South Carolinians chanted “USA! USA!” as one man waved the American flag.