South Carolina House votes to remove Confederate flag from statehouse

Updated

The South Carolina House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly early Thursday to remove the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds.

The final vote of 94-20 after some 13 hours of contentious debate is a stunning turn for the state that was the first to leave the Union and the site of the first shots in the Civil War.

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The effort to remove the flag from the Statehouse grounds gained new moment following the shooting massacre of nine black members of the historic Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston last month. The alleged shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, featured the Confederate flag prominently in photos on a white supremacist website, prompting a new round of calls for its removal from public sites.

The state House has passed the Senate version of the bill written to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the Capitol. The bill will now go to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who has called for the flag’s removal, for her to sign.

Haley praised the vote as a “a new day” in South Carolina. In a Facebook post, Haley called it “a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state.”

Republican State Rep. Mike Pitts, who opposes removing the flag, had filed dozens of amendments Wednesday that would have delayed passage of the House’s bill. “I grew up with that flag, the current flag, being almost a symbol of reverence, because of my family’s service in that war,” Pitts told NBC News on Wednesday. “It was not a racial issue.”

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Wednesday evening when passage of the bill looked uncertain, Republican Rep. Jenny Horne gave an impassioned and tearful speech blasting her fellow Republicans for stalling.

Fighting back tears Horne, who described herself as a descendant of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, recalled the funeral of murdered state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, who was the pastor of Emanuel A.M.E. and was gunned down in the shooting as his wife and daughter were locked themselves in an office.

“I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful such as a 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,” Horne screamed on the state House floor. “For the widow of Sen. Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury and I will not be a part of it!”

This article first appeared on NBCNews.com.

Charleston Church Shooting, Confederate flag and South Carolina

South Carolina House votes to remove Confederate flag from statehouse

Updated