July 2015 \ Diaspora News \ Diaspora—USA
Call for ‘secessionist’ flag removal

By Arun Kumar

One hundred and fifty years after the end of the American civil war, South Carolina’s Indian-American governor Nikki Haley finally added her powerful voice to growing demands for removing the rebel Confederate flag from the State Capitol. Public pressure to remove the red flag with a blue diagonal cross with 13 white stars representing the secessionist states breaking away from the American Union over the issue of slavery peaked after the horrific massacre in a historic black church in Charleston last week.

Hundreds marched in South Carolina over the weekend seeking removal of the Confederate flag from its perch after Dylan Roof. The 21-year-old white man who allegedly came to the church “to shoot black people” and “start a race war”, was seen in photographs with a gun waving the flag. “Today we are here in a moment of unity in our state without ill will to say it is time to remove the flag from our capitol grounds,” said Ms Haley, daughter of Sikh immigrant parents from India and the state’s first non-white governor. “This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state,” said the two-term chief executive of the state that had led the way out of the Union on December 20, 1860, six weeks after the election of Abraham Lincoln as president.

By March 1861, emboldened by South Carolina’s example, six more states—Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas—also seceded to form the Confederate States of America or the Confederacy. The flag once flew atop the State Capitol, but by a 2000 compromise it was moved to its location in front of the state legislature. The flag can only be removed from there with the approval of two-thirds of the General Assembly. Ms Haley said if the legislature doesn’t convene on the matter in this last week of the legislative year, she would call up lawmakers to the capital “under extraordinary measures.”