A South Carolina lawmaker has gained national recognition following her impassioned speech calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the capitol grounds.
In her remarks late Wednesday night, Republican state Rep. Jenny Horne criticized those who defend the flag as a symbol of Southern heritage, explaining that she is a descendant of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president.
"I'm sorry, I have heard enough about heritage. I have a heritage. I am a lifelong South Carolinian. I am a descendant of Jefferson Davis, OK? But that does not matter! It's not about Jenny Horne! It's about the people of South Carolina who have demanded that this symbol of hate come off the state house grounds," she said.
While the Confederate flag has long been a controversial issue in the United States, efforts to remove the flag or other references to the Confederacy from public places have heightened in the weeks since nine African-American churchgoers were killed by a white man who said he was hoping to start a race war in a historic Charleston church. Among those killed was Clementa Pinckney, church pastor and a member of the S.C. State Senate.
The alleged gunman, Dylann Roof, was seen waving Confederate flags in photos posted to social media before the massacre.
In speaking to the South Carolina House, Ms. Horne asserted that the people of Charleston deserve "swift and immediate removal of the flag from these grounds."
"I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on Friday," the 42-year-old lawyer said. "And if any of you vote to amend, you are ensuring that this flag will fly beyond Friday. And for the widow of Senator Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury, and I will not be a part of it."
She continued, "We may visit this another session, another year. But if we amend this bill, we are telling the people of Charleston, 'We dont' care about you. We do not care that someone used this symbol of hate to slay eight innocent people who were worshipping their god.'"
The New York Times reports that the State House voted 94-20 early Thursday morning to take down the flag and move it inside to the state's Confederate Relic Room with other artifacts from the Civil War.
The State Senate already voted overwhelmingly to do the same and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said she would sign such a bill.
"Today, as the Senate did before them, the House of Representatives has served the State of South Carolina and her people with great dignity," Haley said in a statement afterward. "I'm grateful for their service and their compassion. It is a new day in South Carolina, 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."
Following the decision, Ms. Horne took to Facebook to celebrate: "It wasn't easy. It wasn't without emotion. But I'm so proud of my S.C. House colleagues for doing the right thing tonight. At long last, the Confederate battle flag is coming down," she wrote.