This article was updated Friday morning, 10 July 2015.
BREAKING NEWS: The South Carolina House of Representatives has approved the bill to remove the Confederate battle flag from statehouse grounds, a stunning victory for the state that was first to secede from the Union, and fired the first shots of the Civil War.
The issue of taking down the flag, which gained new momentum following the Charleston massacre of nine black American members of Mother Emanuel A. M. E. Church by 21 year-old Dylan Roof, was predicted to stretch until Friday.
However, after 13 hours of contentious debate that oscillated between anger and resentment, and filled with stories of Civil War ancestors, the matter was settled in a final vote of 94-20.
The House passed the Senate’s draft of the bill, designed to remove the flag from the grounds of the Capitol. All that remains is Gov. Nikki Haley’s signature, who, just several days ago, called for the flag’s removal. The legislation will now make its way to her desk.
NBC News reports that Haley posted a Facebook status update declaring this moment “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.” However, Rep. Mike Pitts, who opposed the bill, filed dozens of amendments on Wednesday to delay its passage.
Speaking with NBC, Pitts stated: “I grew up with that flag, the current flag, being almost a symbol of reverence, because of my family’s service in that war. It was not a racial issue.”
According to the Associated Press, Republican Rep. Jenny Horne, in a revealing testimony, cried as she bid her colleagues remember her ancestral tie to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and chastised members of her party for piling on amendments to stall passage of the bill.
Horne reportedly screamed the following into her microphone:
“For the widow of Sen. Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury and I will not be a part of it!”
Rep. Joel Neal, a black Democrat in public office since 1992, said “I never thought in my lifetime I’d see this.”
Please check back with Wear Your Voice for more on this developing story.
Update: On Friday morning, the Confederate flag was officially drawn down from state grounds. Chants of U-S-A, U-S-A could be heard as the symbol of hate was lowered by state troopers. President Obama also voiced his reaction in a tweet: “A signal of goodwill and healing, and a meaningful step towards a better future.”