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S.C. Governor Signs Bill To Remove Confederate Flag From State House Grounds

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Today in South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law the bill that removes the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NIKKI HALEY: The Confederate flag is coming off the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse.

(APPLAUSE)

MCEVERS: This comes after weeks of contentious debate that began after the church killings in Charleston. The suspect in that massacre was photographed with Confederate flags. We go now to Duncan McFadyen of member station WFAE. He joins us from Columbia, S.C. And Duncan, what else did the governor say when she signed the bill?

DUNCAN MCFADYEN, BYLINE: Well, the governor took note that South Carolina is a state that values its history. As she said, when the emotions start to fade from the Charleston shootings, the history of these actions - the ones that took down the flag - is what the state can be proud of. She also said it had been 22 days since she said her - sort of her signature tagline, it's a great day in South Carolina. And she got a big round of applause when she said that once again.

MCEVERS: And so when does the flag actually get taken down, and where will it go?

MCFADYEN: The governor says the flag will come down, in her words, with dignity at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. And it's going just down the road to a Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. And despite the name, that museum actually covers the full military history of the state, from the American Revolution through to the present day. And the museum hasn't said yet if the flag will be displayed right away.

MCEVERS: What has been the reaction to today's news outside of the Statehouse there in Columbia?

MCFADYEN: Well, earlier in the day, there was sort of a flow of people coming through who were taking photos with the flag, some people just taking a moment to take it in. A handful of people were there for several hours, and they had been there for several days holding up signs in support of taking the flag down. A number of people, though, seemed to be coming by to see the flag on its last full day. Beth Phillips (ph) was there to take some photos to show her grandchildren.

BETH PHILLIPS: I think it's a part of history, and a lot of people really misunderstand the history of it.

MCFADYEN: Others, of course, were there to take photos of celebration that the flag was coming down tomorrow. And then after the governor signed the bill this afternoon, there was a great celebration outside, people chanting. Cars were driving by and blowing their horns at the scene.

MCEVERS: And so with the bill being signed today and the flag's removal tomorrow, I mean, is that the end of the story?

MCFADYEN: That's unlikely. I talked to some supporters of the flag who were disappointed it's coming down, and they're worried that this is going to lead to more Confederate memorials coming down and, in their words, sort of a whitewashing of history. On the other hand, I spoke to a woman who's for the flag coming down, and she's hoping that this will kick off a string of more civil rights events. And she spoke specifically about more advances in the public education system in South Carolina.

MCEVERS: That's Duncan McFadyen of member station WFAE. He joined us from Columbia, S.C. Duncan, thank you so much.

MCFADYEN: You're welcome, Kelly. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.