Three days before we were to start learning about Communism in a political science course in my sophomore year at college, the Berlin Wall came down. Technically the borders were opened to all Germans and people danced on the wall all night; it was the beginning of the end. It was something I never thought would happen in my lifetime, but there it was on TV: East and West Berliners were hopping atop the wall and a bulldozer run through a section of it marking the end of a divided Germany and soon the end of the largest and most powerful Communist countries, the USSR. It was amazing to see it happen with such speed and peace, and in my own lifetime.
This morning I watched another moment in history on TV. The Confederate Battle flag that flew over the South Carolina capitol was officially taken down today. The flag was put up by the South Carolina legislature in response to the growing Civil Rights Movement in 1961, and they made it so in the law that it needed a 2/3 majority vote to remove the flag at all. In 2000 the flag was removed from the statehouse dome, but flew on the capitol grounds by a Confederate memorial. With the murder of nine black people in a historic AME church in Charleston, the calls came fast and furious to remove the flag. This past week, the legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds and move it somewhere to be displayed for historical purposes. And today, I watched on TV as the Parks Honor Guard lowered the flag, took it off the flagpole, folded it up and removed it from the grounds. The most incredible part was the crowds gathered to watch. From the streets, people were chanting “take it down” as the honor guard moved in place; then it changed to “USA! USA!” as it was lowered down the pole. It was another incredible moment in history I never thought would happen in my lifetime.
I’m sorry that it, once again, took the blood of black people to cause such a change, but it is a positive change. Another reason this change happened was because of a white, Republican female representative who was a descendant of Confederate President Jefferson Davis who made an impassioned plea on the assembly floor. I’m so glad to see Rep Jenny Horne check her privilege at the door and do something for the victims of the massacre, the population of South Carolina, and her friend Rev. Clementa Pinckney who was among those nine killed. Please watch her speech below, and then go to her Facebook page and send her a thank you message for her work.