"Finally we can breathe, we can sigh, we can cheer," former state Rep. Bakari Sellers told CNN.
The Confederate flag, a symbol of America's battlefield history, but for many, a symbol of a bitter and deeply rooted racism, has been removed from South Carolina's state Capitol.
A little after 10am this morning, highway patrol officers took down the Confederate battle flag that hung on the grounds of the Statehouse in Columbia.
A crowd cheered and chanted “USA, USA!” as South Carolina highway patrol officers rolled the flag down from the 30-foor flagpole, detached it and folded it with careful precision. An officer then presented it to a state archivist. Governor Nikki Haley had earlier signed legislation that calls for moving the flag to the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, where it will be on display.
“The museum is aware that this is a grave responsibility and will formulate plans to appropriately exhibit it," the museum said in a statement. "The museum is humbled to play a small role in further uniting the citizens of South Carolina.”
African-American activists have long called for the removal of the flag from Capitol grounds. Calls for its removal grew more intense after the massacre of nine Black churchgoers last month.
"Finally we can breathe, we can sigh, we can cheer," former state Rep. Bakari Sellers told CNN. "This is why Rosa sat and Martin marched, so that we can have events like this."
The Confederate flag has flown at the South Carolina Capitol grounds since 2000. Before that it was first flown over the state’s Capitol dome in 1961 on the hundredth anniversary of the Civil War. While most African-Americans saw the flag as a symbol of racism, many supporters saw it as a symbol of Southern pride.
President Obama took to Twitter to celebrate the move.