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It Really Is A Great Day In South Carolina
7/15/2015 2:16:31 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

Last Friday, as I made my way to Columbia to see the flag come down, all kinds of thoughts raced through my head. I thought about change and will the removal of the flag really change the hearts of those who have harbored hatred for so many years. I thought about all of the persons who did not live to witness this significant time in history.

The removal of the Confederate flag from the state house ground in Columbia ushered in a new era. And, anything else that is divisive needs to meet the same fate. The people of South Carolina have spoken. Special thanks to Governor Nikki Haley and the Legislators for dealing with the prompt removal of the flag after the Emanuel 9 killings. What an awesome tribute to those nine persons who lost their lives during Bible Study at Mother Emanuel AME Church. The deep seated racism that led Dylann Roof to do what he did has been replaced with love across racial lines in the House, Senate and South Carolina.

Charleston is my hometown. I left and returned to Charleston because of the warmth of its people. That’s not to say, like my parents, I have not had to endure my share of racism and so did my children; but, my mother was a fighter and so am I. I knew one day that divisive Confederate flag would come down. And, hopefully, the next generation will not have to fight as hard to remove the vestiges of racism and inequality.

As Charleston and the State of South Carolina move forward to eradicate racism and hatred, let’s not forget that the sword cuts on both sides. Blacks have to begin tearing down the walls that they have built up and see things differently. All White folk are not bad just like all Black folk are not good. The best deciding factor of who people really are can be summed up in what they do and not what they say. Old folks used to say, “pick your company” or “watch the company you keep”. It made sense then and it makes sense now. I taught my children to be around “good folks”, whoever good folks may be. I never taught them color.

Like others, I regret that so many had to die before the powers that be said yes to the removal of the flag that should not have been flying atop the state capitol or on state ground in the first place. To those folks who say the flag is not about racism but heritage, I say to them reexamine the damage and ask yourself, “is it worth it?”

Charleston is a beautiful city and so is the state of South Carolina. Neither got that way overnight. It took an enormous amount of meetings, prayers and reconciliations but we are moving in the right direction. Will someone please tell the North Carolina based Loyal White Knights Ku Klux Klan that the “battle” is over as they prepare for their rally Saturday in Columbia in wake of the removal of the Confederate Flag.

According to Jane Timm of MSNBC news, Ku Klux Klan member, James Spears, was quoted as saying the Civil War was not over slavery but over taxes and anyone who pick up a history book can tell that.” Is Spears referring to the taxes not collected on the monies received from selling my people? I don’t know which history book Spears read, since so much black history has been left out of many of our history books, but true history is history lived.

Black history is fact history. There is no getting around who did the back breaking labor to enrich this state. South Carolina’s fields of cotton, tobacco and rice were harvested by blacks. Lynching, raping of black children and women, auctioning off blacks and splitting up black families are all factual history. Get it right!

South Carolina is moving forward and one sign of forwardness is the flag has come down. South Carolinians are coming together. It may have taken only a few minutes to murder the Emanuel 9 but the tragedy of that day will live on forever in our hearts, minds and souls. What Roof meant for evil the Lord changed into good.

Remember the number 9. Nine upstanding Charleston citizens were killed on June 17Th and on July 9th Governor Haley signed the Bill to remove the Confederate Flag from the State House grounds. The road to eradicate racism has not seen many travelers. Traffic has been snarled at the intersection of superior and inferior. It took the deaths of 9 Christians to get the traffic moving. There is no stopping us now.

While riding home from Columbia with my passengers, we discussed what it meant to be there to see the flag coming down. One of the passengers said, “nothing but God”. Another said, “I was trembling”. I did not say anything for I was speechless. For once in my life, I was speechless. I didn’t have to say a word. I knew for the first time in a long time that South Carolina had done the right thing.

South Carolina has had a record of being last but on this occasion, she came led the fight to eradicate racism. South Carolina set the example for this country to follow that not only the Confederate flag belongs in a museum but also racism. It really is a great day in South Carolina.


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