(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — Dot Scott, the president of the Charleston chapter of the NAACP, said that she stayed up all night to watch the debate and wait for the final vote to approve the removal of the Confederate flag.
“I’m almost speechless to say how much this means to the African American community, how much this means to our children,” she told ABC News.
Scott credited the speed of the reversal of the long-held practice of flying the Confederate flag on the state capitol grounds to the emotional impact that the shooting at the Emanuel AME Church had not only on a local level, but on the whole country.
“This had to be divine intervention,” she said, noting how “it’s part of the faith … there’s a belief that things don’t happen just for no reason and there’s no way this could happen for no reason,” she said.
“If you could see a good ending is that the lives of these people could change South Carolina forever,” she said.
Rep. Jenny Horne, a Republican who is a descendant of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, gave an emotional plea to her colleagues on the Senate floor on Wednesday, arguing for the flag’s removal.
She told ABC News that prior to the shooting, she never foresaw the flag coming down.
“I never did ever, and the only reason it did, was because of tragedy, that’s only reason. For that I’m very sad. I think we’re gonna honor their legacy, Sen. [Clementa] Pinckney’s legacy at least something good came out of a tragedy,” she said, referencing her former colleague who was one of the shooting victims.
Democratic Rep. Justin Bamberg similarly thought that the removal of the flag was a reflection on the mood of the state, and a positive indication for the future.
“To sum up everything that’s happened over last 24 hours — this is what progress looks like,” he said.
Beyond historic significance, the removal of the flag could lead to an economic boost for the state, as Scott said that the next step for the NAACP is to lift their suggested boycott by certain organizations, including the NCAA.
The NCAA released a statement following the signing of the law ordering the removal of the flag, saying they “commend” the decision.
“For nearly 15 years we have specifically protested the flag by not allowing states like South Carolina to host pre-selected NCAA championships,” NCAA Board of Governors chair Kirk Schulz said this afternoon. “With this impending change, and consistent with our policy, South Carolina may bid to host future NCAA championships once the flag no longer flies at the State House grounds.”
For Scott, the first real indicators that this year’s debate over the flag would be different than earlier episodes, Scott said, came when major state leaders, from the president of the College of Charleston to the Gov. Nikki Haley, came out in support of its removal.
“She’s a smart lady and she wouldn’t have been up there until she thought [she could get it done],” Scott said of Haley, who this afternoon signed the bill scheduling the removal of the flag.
The flag will remain in the air on the flagpole on the capitol grounds for one final night before being removed on Friday morning.
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