Confederate flag down but what happens now

From Bluffton Today: By Jesse Holand, Associated Press, July 13, 2015

Legions of people clapped, cheered and cried as South Carolina lowered the Confederate battle flag. But the euphoria of a moment that was more than a decade in the making quickly began to shift to a hard question to answer: What exactly had been accomplished for race relations in the United States? Was it more symbolic than substantive?

A flag is gone. But discrimination, poverty and inequality still exist around the country, with some wondering if the time and energy spent on the Confederate battle flag might have been better used tackling other racial issues facing Americans.

“It was easy to focus on the flag, as opposed to the issues that have divided blacks and whites historically,” said Carol Swain, a law and political science professor at Vanderbilt University.
But a symbolic victory is still a victory, others argued, with this one meaning more than most — that the feelings of a minority population perpetually outvoted and not always considered in the South had finally been acknowledged. The abrupt shift in political willingness to take down the flag came just weeks after nine black people — including a revered minister and legislator — were shot to death during Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston; photos of the white man charged with their slayings showed him displaying the Confederate flag and authorities have described the slayings as a hate crime.

In the years before, it was viewed as political suicide to push to remove the flag from the statehouse grounds. Former Govs. David Beasley of South Carolina and Roy Barnes of Georgia were voted out of office over the issue. Beasley had proposed relocating the flag from the Statehouse to a monument. Barnes had introduced a new state flag to reduce the size of the Confederate battle symbol emblazoned on it.

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