“What we fly today is not an enduring symbol of our heritage, but the fighting flag of those who wanted to preserve a segregated South in the face of the civil rights movement.”
-- Former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller, 1992
Georgia has always been at the vanguard of the New South. Gov. Zell Miller’s attempt to remove the Confederate flag from the Georgia flag 23 years ago failed, but his successor, Gov. Roy Barnes succeeded -- in a way. However, it was former Gov. Sonny Perdue who is responsible for the flag that flies over the state now. And while other states have had bitter battles about the flag, Georgia settled the issue and moved on. It wasn’t easy. Nor was it easy in South Carolina. The last fight ended in compromise 15 years ago. It took the deaths of nine souls in Emanuel AME in Charleston to spark the Palmetto State to take action on the battle flag. But more than that, it took the power of faith and forgiveness to override hate and heritage.
As South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said during the signing ceremony after the bill to remove the flag passed the House and Senate, “The actions that took place are what will go down in the history books. Nine people took in someone that did not look like them or act like them, and with true love and true faith and true acceptance, they sat and prayed with him for an hour.”
The flag will be removed Friday at 10 a.m., and moved to the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. Congratulations, South Carolina. Welcome to the New South.