As these words are being written, the ceremony of lowering the Confederate flag at the capital is happening — literally.
In the end, it simply came down.
There were no speeches by politicians. There were not bands playing. There were no elaborate ceremonies. It all ended with seven state troopers — white and black, male and female — silently walking across the capital lawn, lowering the flag, rolling it up and giving it to a nameless state employee to be taken to a museum.
That was it.
Hundreds of thousands of words have been written and many more are to come but to me it all comes down to just five letters – One S.C.
This is the sentiment that is being felt and express by people all over our state in many different words, in their own personal ways. A few examples:
“It takes a heart to reach a heart and the hearts of the Emanuel nine reached the hearts of many who had resisted change.”
“This is a new day for South Carolina and it offers new hope.”
“We are no longer that Deep South state anymore.”
“My heart goes out to the Klan because they’re people too and I don’t want to see people suffer.”
“The battle is over, my side lost. We’ll come back together. The state will move on.”
“As a whole, we’re moving forward, and thank you, Lord.”
“For the first time ever, I do believe it is a great day in South Carolina.”
For years, 150 years to be exact, our state has suffered a near-fatal wound that was the Civil War. Even after it ended, it did not end. We picked at the scab and never let the wound heal.
Now, it — we, us, the state, and our soul — can heal.
And this is not just something that happened at the state capitol among the politicians because of their speeches full of passion. It is something that has happened quietly, without a lot of discussion in the hearts and souls of the people of our state.
Our people, of all ages, parties, races, incomes and regions have individually, simply and quietly, made up their mind that “it’s time.”
In the last week, I have driven nearly a thousand miles around our state for a family July Fourth celebration, for a variety of civic meetings and an expedition to trace my family roots. What was most striking was what I did not see — the Confederate flag. In all those miles, in urban and rural areas, small towns and farms, I saw almost no Confederate flags flying… but many, many American and South Carolina flags.
It’s as if we have collectively decided to simply turn the page. And we have.
Right now, for this moment, for this time, we have become One South Carolina.
We don’t know how long this moment will last. We still have enormous challenges and problems in this state. We still have a racial divide and race still defines much of our struggles. But for right now, we have an opportunity — an opportunity to turn the page and begin anew with a new spirit.
It is a spirit that has never existed before in our state.
We are One S.C.
Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and president of the S.C. New Democrats, an independent reform group strated by former Gov. Richard Riley. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.