In 2000, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley led a march from his city to the Statehouse in Columbia to demand that our lawmakers take the Confederate flag off the dome over our seat of government.
They did — and then put it down on the lawn, behind the Confederate soldier monument. There, it is no longer in a position of false sovereignty. But it’s far more visible. Much more in-your-face.
Today, the mayor’s city is grieving because, authorities say, a young white man from Columbia went to Mayor Joe’s city to kill worshippers in a church that is unparalleled in its significance to black South Carolinians. After killing nine people, including a state senator who just hours before had been doing his duty in that very Statehouse, the gunman allegedly drove away in a car with Confederate flags on the front license plate.
Charleston and Columbia are at either end of an axis of sorrow and racial hatred. And while the U.S. and S.C. flags atop the Statehouse are at half-mast as an expression of true sorrow on the parts of most of our citizens, the Confederate flag still flies at the top of its pole.
It’s time for another march.