Mary Modjeska Monteith Simkins, sometimes called the matriarch of Civil Rights activists in South Carolina
Modjeska Monteith was raised to be an activist, although it’s doubtful her parents would have phrased it that way. Her father, a master brick mason, and her mother, a schoolteacher who only quit teaching when Modjeska was born, were affluent by the standards of the day; their financial independence enabled them to stress the importance of racial pride, Christian mission, community service, and respect for education. Her father, the son of a white lawyer and his domestic servant (and a former slave), did not want his family to live subservient to the white world and emphasized the importance of supporting one’s own people. He kept pictures of famous black people in the home, and he made sure his family reached out to those neighbors who had less. Through their church, they often visited and cared for the ill or the desperately poor. The family supported black-owned businesses and were even part owners of a black-owned grocery store. Without realizing it, her upbringing was preparing Modjeska to be one of the “talented tenth.”
For most of my life, a flag representing white supremacist violence against black people flew at the capitol of my native state. It is a very big deal that this emblem of hatred and oppression is finally coming down. […]
In the South, William Faulkner wrote, the past isn’t even past. The flag represented, for some white South Carolinians, a past that was invented out of whole cloth — a past in which something other than slavery was the cause of a conflict Southerners called the “War Between the States.”
In truth, the Civil War only was about states’ rights in the sense that the Confederate states feared losing one specific “right” — to own human beings and compel their labor. No amount of Spanish moss can obscure this basic fact. No paeans to the valor of Confederate soldiers can change the fact that they were fighting for slavery.
And no amount of revisionist claptrap can change the fact that the flag was hoisted at the capitol in Columbia in 1961 and kept flying not to honor some gauzy vision of Southern valor but to resist the dismantling of Jim Crow segregation. The flag meant whites-only schools, whites-only public accommodations, whites-only voter rolls. It represented white power and privilege over subjugated African Americans. It was used by the murderous terrorists of the Ku Klux Klan — and by an ignorant young white supremacist who allegedly took nine innocent lives at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
… it still took hours of contentious debate, but the House passed the bill around 1 a.m. and Haley signed it into law Thursday afternoon.
Rep. Jenny Horne (R) makes impassioned plea to vote to remove the flag