On April 11, 1961 — just three short months after the election of John F. Kennedy quickened the process of desegregation across the United States — South Carolina reinstated the Confederate battle flag on Capitol grounds to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. Though its intentions as a statement of bafflingly defiant protest against the increasingly progressive country surrounding South Carolina were made repeatedly clear, the flag somehow remained — inspiring division in a region that needed unity perhaps more than ever.
Following the Charleston Church Massacre — an act of domestic terrorism aided by the instigator’s deep connections to white supremacy — the focus on the original intentions behind the flag’s presence on South Carolina’s Capitol grounds (and its similar presence in other southern states) was swiftly renewed. Following a predictably heated debate (and one brave act of citizenry from activist Bree Newsome), a bill to permanently remove the Confederate flag swiftly made its way to Governor Nikki Haley — who signed the bill into law with nine different pens, each honoring one of the victims of the Charleston Church Massacre.
On Friday, the flag was (finally!) removed during a rousing ceremony attended by a host of onlookers hungry for historical advancement: