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S.C. Governor Signs Legislation to Remove the Confederate Flag

May 24, 2000|From Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gov. Jim Hodges signed legislation Tuesday to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome where is has flown for 38 years, saying it was time the state ended years of racial divisions the banner has caused.

The flag will come down July 1.

"Today, we bring this debate to an honorable end. Today, the descendants of slaves and the descendants of Confederate soldiers join together in the spirit of mutual respect," the Democratic governor said in one of the most politically important speeches of his first term. "Today, the debate over the Confederate flag above the Capitol passes into South Carolina history.

Hodges spoke for about five minutes, then signed the bill.

South Carolina alone flies the flag above the Statehouse, where it was raised in 1962 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. Critics suggest it also was to defy civil rights, with the flag becoming a symbol of hate. Supporters say it represents the state's heritage.

Under a legislative compromise, a square version of the flag will fly at the Confederate Soldier Monument on Statehouse grounds.

That's not good enough for some flag opponents. The National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People has promised to continue and expand the tourism boycott of the state it began Jan. 1. The civil rights group says the monument, where the flag will fly on a 30-foot, $6,400 bronze pole, is still too prominent.

House Majority Leader Rick Quinn, a Republican, said that while he approved of Hodges' remarks, the governor should have gone further and called on the NAACP to end the boycott.

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