On June 17, 2015, nine black members of a Bible study at a Charleston church, including the senior pastor, state Senator Clementa Pinckney, were shoot to death. After the discovery of a website belonging to the alleged shooter containing white supremacist writings and photos of him posing with the Confederate battle flag, calls mounted to remove the battle flag from South Carolina State House grounds, where it had flown since 1962. After quick passage of a bill in the South Carolina Senate, the bill stalled in the House as multiple amendments were proposed. In a passionate speech on the House floor, Horne advocated for an immediate end to the proposals of amendments and for passage of the bill, a speech credited with helping to change the course of the debate and lead to the vote to remove the flag.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker for your indulgence tonight and I know the hour is late so I will be brief.
As a member of the Charleston delegation, I would like to express to you how important it is that we not amend this bill. And the reason we need not amend this bill at this time is because if we amend the bill in any form or fashion, it is going to a conference committee. It is not going to end quickly. We are going to be doing this all summer long.
Let me tell you, I attended the funeral of Senator Clementa Pinckney, and the people of Charleston deserve immediate and swift removal of that flag from this ground. We can save for another day where this flag needs to go, which flag needs to fly or where it needs to fly, or what museum it needs to be in, but the immediate issue, as far as I'm concerned as a member of the Charleston delegation and speaking on behalf of the people in Charleston – this flag offends my friend Mia McLeod, my friend John King, my friend Reverand Neal.
I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on Friday. And if any of you vote to amend, you are ensuring that this flag will fly beyond Friday. And for the widow of Senator Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury. And I will not be a part of it.
And for all of these reasons, I will not vote to amend this bill today. We may visit this another session, another year. But if we amend this bill, we are telling the people of Charleston, we don't care about you. We do not care that someone used this symbol of hate to slay eight innocent people who were worshipping their god.
I'm sorry. I have heard enough about heritage. I have a heritage. I am a lifelong South Carolinian. I am a descendant of Jefferson Davis. OK? But that does not matter. It's not about Jenny Horne.
It's about the people of South Carolina who have demanded that this symbol of hate come off of the statehouse grounds. And I will tell you I do know – and I have it on good authority – that the world is watching this debate. And there is an economic development project in Dorchester County that is in jeopardy because we refuse to act.
We need to follow the example of the Senate. Remove this flag and do it today, because this issue is not getting any better with age. Thank you.
Speech from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFTWiltAy8E.