South Carolina House approves bill removing Confederate flag

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SC House of Representatives Votes to Remove Confederate Flag
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — More than 50 years after South Carolina raised a Confederate flag at its Statehouse to protest the civil rights movement, the state is getting ready to remove the rebel banner.

A bill pulling down the flag from the Capitol's front lawn and the flagpole it flies on passed the South Carolina House early Thursday morning. It should get to Gov. Nikki Haley's desk before the end of the day.

The governor promised to sign it quickly, but didn't say exactly when. That's important, because the bill requires the flag be taken down within 24 hours of her pen hitting the paper and shipped to the Confederate Relic Room.

SEE: Displays of passion at Wednesday night's SC House Confederate flag debate:

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Confederate Flag voted to be removed
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South Carolina House approves bill removing Confederate flag
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signs the bill to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House grounds on Thursday, July 9, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. (Tracy Glantz/The State/TNS via Getty Images)
COLUMBIA, SC - JULY 9: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signs a bill to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state house grounds July 9, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Debate on the flag was reignited three weeks ago after the mass murder at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signs a bill into law as former South Carolina governors and officials look on Thursday, July 9, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. The law enables the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds more than 50 years after the rebel banner was raised to protest the civil rights movement. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signs Senate Bill 897 into law, Thursday, July 9, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. The law enables the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds more than 50 years after the rebel banner was raised to protest the civil rights movement. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
COLUMBIA, SC - JULY 09: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signs a bill to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse on July 9, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. The South Carolina House of Representatives had passed the measure earlier in the morning, clearing the way for the historic day. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
COLUMBIA, SC - JULY 9: The Rev. Jesse Jackson celebrates with state lawmakers at the South Carolina state house July 9, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. The House passed a senate bill to remove the Confederate battle flag from the capitol grounds Thursday morning after debating for more than 13 hours. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Rep. Carl Anderson, D-Georgetown, left, embraces Rev. Jesse Jackson after the House approved a bill removing the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds early Thursday, July 9, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Rep. Cezar McKnight, D-Williamsburg, right, hugs an unidentified man after the House approved a bill removing the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds early Thursday, July 9, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
COLUMBIA, SC - JULY 9: State Reps. John King (L) and Cezar McKnight celebrate after the House approved a senate bill to remove the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina capitol grounds July 9, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Lawmakers debated for more than 13 hours before approving the bill early Thursday morning. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
COLUMBIA, SC - JULY 9: Supporters celebrate after South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signs a bill to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state house grounds July 9, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Debate on the flag was reignited three weeks ago after the mass murder at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Leslie Minerd, of Columbia, S.C., holds a sign as she celebrates outside the South Carolina Statehouse, Thursday, July 9, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. More than 50 years after South Carolina raised a Confederate flag at its Statehouse to protest the civil rights movement, the rebel banner will be removed Friday in a state where such a reversal seemed unthinkable a month ago. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks during a ceremony where she signed a bill into law, Thursday, July 9, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. The law enables the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds more than 50 years after the rebel banner was raised to protest the civil rights movement. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Summerville, gets emotional as she speaks during debate over a Senate bill calling for the Confederate flag to be removed from the Capitol grounds Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. The House is under pressure to act after the state Senate passed its own measure, which is supported by Gov. Nikki Haley. But some Republicans proposed changes to the Senate bill that would preserve some kind of symbol in front of the Statehouse to honor their Southern ancestors. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, makes a point as he speaks on the floor of the South Carolina House during debate over a Senate bill calling for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the statehouse grounds Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Lawmakers were deliberating a proposal that could remove the banner from the Capitol grounds after the state Senate passed its own measure, which is supported by Governor Nikki Haley. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
South Carolina Speaker of the House Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, looks on as a Senate bill calling for the Confederate flag to be removed from the Capitol grounds is debated, Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, rubs his eyes as the House debates a Senate bill calling for the Confederate flag to be removed from the Capitol grounds Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. The House is under pressure to act after the state Senate passed its own measure, which is supported by Gov. Nikki Haley. But some Republicans proposed changes to the Senate bill that would preserve some kind of symbol in front of the Statehouse to honor their Southern ancestors. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Rep. Christopher Corley, R- Aiken, shows his frustration by waving a white flag of surrender during debate over a Senate bill calling for the Confederate flag to be removed from the Capitol grounds Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. The House is under pressure to act after the state Senate passed its own measure, which is supported by Gov. Nikki Haley. But some Republicans proposed changes to the Senate bill that would preserve some kind of symbol in front of the Statehouse to honor their Southern ancestors. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Rep. Mike Ryhal, R-Myrtle Beach, speaks in on the floor of the South Carolina House during debate over a Senate Bill calling for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the statehouse grounds Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Lawmakers were deliberating a proposal that could remove the banner from the Capitol grounds after the state Senate passed its own measure, which is supported by Governor Nikki Haley. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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There were hugs, tears and high fives in the House chamber after the vote. Members who waited decades to see this day snapped selfies and pumped their fists. But even among the celebrations, there was more than a bit of sadness.

After the Civil War, the flag was first flown over the dome of South Carolina's Capitol in 1961 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the war. It stayed as a protest to the Civil Rights movement, only moving in 2000 from the dome to its current location.

The push that would bring down the Confederate flag for good only started after nine black churchgoers, including state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, were gunned down during Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Episcopal Church in Charleston on June 17. Police said the white gunman's motivation was racial hatred. Then three days later, photos surfaced of the suspect, Dylann Roof, holding Confederate flags.

"I am 44 years old. I never thought I'd see this moment. I stand with people who never thought they would see this as well," said House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, who called the victims martyrs. "It's emotional for us not just because it came down, but why it came down."

Republican Rep. Rick Quinn, whose amendment appeared it might at least delay the flag's removal for several hours, was happy too after getting a promise that lawmakers would find money for a special display at the Relic Room for the Confederate flag that was about to be removed as well as the one that flew over the Statehouse dome in 2000 when a compromise was passed to move the rebel banner to its current location.

SEE: People protesting the Confederate flag:
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Confederate flag protests in SC
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South Carolina House approves bill removing Confederate flag
Theron Foster, of Columbia, S.C., protests outside the South Carolina statehouse, Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Columbia, where the House was debating a Senate bill that would remove the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Hundreds of people gather for a protest rally against the Confederate flag in Columbia, South Carolina on June 20, 2015. The racially divisive Confederate battle flag flew at full-mast despite others flying at half-staff in South Carolina after the killing of nine black people in an historic African-American church in Charleston on June 17. Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white male suspected of carrying out the Emanuel African Episcopal Methodist Church bloodbath, was one of many southern Americans who identified with the 13-star saltire in red, white and blue. AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
COLUMBIA, SC - JUNE 23: Ernest Branch (L) hugs a man carrying a Confederate flag (who didn't want to provide his name) saying, that he respects the fact the guy likes the flag but that he is against the flag flying on the Capitol grounds on June 23, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. The South Carolina governor Nikki Haley asked that the flag be removed afer debate over the flag flying on the capitol grounds was kicked off after nine people were shot and killed during a prayer meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley hugs U.S. Congressman James Clyburn after she called for legislators to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State House during a press conference on Monday, June 22, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. (Tim Dominick/The State/TNS via Getty Images)
Protesters hold signs as they chant during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. The shooting deaths of nine people at a black church in Charleston, S.C, have reignited calls for the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the Statehouse in Columbia to come down. Rallies are being held, and politicians have joined the chorus of voices calling for its removal — an opinion that has carried political risks in the state in the past. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
COLUMBIA, SC - JUNE 23: Asha Jones attends a protest in support of a Confederate flags removal from the South Carolina capitol grounds on June 23, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. The South Carolina governor Nikki Haley asked that the flag be removed after debate over the flag flying on the capitol grounds was kicked off after nine people were shot and killed during a prayer meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
COLUMBIA, SC - JUNE 23: Sonya Anderson asks for the removal of the confederate flag as she attends a protest in support of a confederate flags removal from the South Carolina capitol grounds on June 23, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. The South Carolina governor Nikki Haley asked that the flag be removed after debate over the flag flying on the capitol grounds was kicked off after nine people were shot and killed during a prayer meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 20: Anti-Confederate flag protesters demonstrate outside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church where nine people were shot to death earlier this week June 20, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Suspect Dylann Roof, 21, was arrested and charged in the killing of nine people during a prayer meeting in the church, one of the nation's oldest black churches in the South. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A man wears a t-shirt representing the Confederate flag as hundreds of people gather for a protest rally against the Confederate flag in Columbia, South Carolina on June 20, 2015. The racially divisive Confederate battle flag flew at full-mast despite others flying at half-staff in South Carolina after the killing of nine black people in an historic African-American church in Charleston on June 17. Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white male suspected of carrying out the Emanuel African Episcopal Methodist Church bloodbath, was one of many southern Americans who identified with the 13-star saltire in red, white and blue. AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters hold signs during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. The shooting deaths of nine people at a black church in Charleston, S.C, have reignited calls for the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the Statehouse in Columbia to come down. Rallies are being held, and politicians have joined the chorus of voices calling for its removal — an opinion that has carried political risks in the state in the past. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Christian Mergner, of Columbia, S.C., holds a sign during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. The shooting deaths of nine people at a black church in Charleston, S.C, have reignited calls for the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the Statehouse in Columbia to come down. Rallies are being held, and politicians have joined the chorus of voices calling for its removal — an opinion that has carried political risks in the state in the past. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Protesters hold signs as they chant during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. The shooting deaths of nine people at a black church in Charleston, S.C, have reignited calls for the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the Statehouse in Columbia to come down. Rallies are being held, and politicians have joined the chorus of voices calling for its removal — an opinion that has carried political risks in the state in the past. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Kirt Moody, of Columbia, S.C. holds a sign during a rally to take down the flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. For years, South Carolina lawmakers refused to revisit the Confederate flag on Statehouse grounds, saying the law that took it off the dome was a bipartisan compromise, and renewing the debate would unnecessarily expose divisive wounds. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Protesters stand on the South Carolina Statehouse steps during a rally to take down the Confederate flag, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Lennos Lemon, 12, sits on the South Carolina Statehouse steps during a rally to take down the Confederate flag, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Salley Rickenbacker, of Columbia, S.C., holds an U.S flag as the Confederate flag flies nearby during a rally to take down the flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel AME Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
COLUMBIA, SC - JUNE 22: The Confederate flag flies on the Capitol grounds after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced that she will call for the Confederate flag to be removed on June 22, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Debate over the flag flying at the Capitol was again ignited off after nine people were shot and killed during a prayer meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Protesters stand near a flying Confederate flag during a rally to take down the flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel AME Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Protesters holds signs during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel AME Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Protesters close their eyes in silent prayer as they stand on the South Carolina Statehouse steps during a rally to take down the Confederate flag, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Protesters stand around a flying Confederate flag during a rally to take down the flag at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. on Saturday, June 20, 2015. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Protesters stand near a flying Confederate flag during a rally to take down the flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel AME Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Protesters holds signs during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel AME Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Mariangeles Borghini holds a burned Confederate flag during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel AME Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Protesters hold signs in front of the Confederate flag during a rally to take down the flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel AME Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Protesters stand around a flying Confederate flag during a rally to take down the flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel AME Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Sheila DiCioccio holds a sign during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel AME Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Tom Dombrowski, left, of Charleston, S.C., holds a sign during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, said it's past time for the Confederate flag to be removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds after nine people were killed at the Emanuel AME Church shooting. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
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"It was done in a way that was a win to everyone," said Quinn, who voted for the bill.

The back-to-back votes came around 1 a.m. Thursday after more than 13 hours of passionate and contentious debate.

As House members deliberated well into the night, there were tears of anger and shared memories of Civil War ancestors. Black Democrats, frustrated at being asked to show grace to Civil War soldiers as the debate wore on, warned the state was embarrassing itself.

Changing the Senate bill could have meant it taking weeks or even months to remove the flag, perhaps blunting momentum that has grown since the church massacre.

Republican Rep. Jenny Horne reminded her colleagues she was a descendent of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and scolded fellow members of her party for stalling the debate with dozens of amendments.

She cried as she remembered Pinckney's funeral and his widow, who was hiding with one of their daughters in a church office as the gunman fired dozens of shots.

"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!" she screamed into a microphone.

She said later during a break she didn't intend to speak but got frustrated with fellow Republicans.

Opponents of removing the flag talked about grandparents who passed down family treasures and lamented that the flag had been "hijacked" or "abducted" by racists.

Rep. Mike Pitts, who remembered playing with a Confederate ancestor's cavalry sword while growing up, said for him the flag is a reminder of how dirt-poor Southern farmers fought Yankees not because they hated blacks or supported slavery, but because their land was being invaded.

Those soldiers should be respected just as soldiers who fought in the Middle East or Afghanistan, he said, recalling his own military service. Pitts then turned to a lawmaker he called a dear friend, recalling how his black colleague nearly died in Vietnam.

Black lawmakers told their own stories of ancestors. Rep. Joe Neal talked about tracing his family back to four brothers, brought to America in chains to be bought by a slave owner named Neal who changed their last names and pulled them apart from their families.

"The whole world is asking, is South Carolina really going to change, or will it hold to an ugly tradition of prejudice and discrimination and hide behind heritage as an excuse for it," Neal said.

Other Democrats suggested any delay would let Ku Klux Klan members planning a rally July 18 a chance to dance around the Confederate flag.

Instead, Democrats were using a line Gov. Haley often says, calling it "a great day in South Carolina."

The governor issued her own statement. "It is a new day in South Carolina, 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 on," she said.

Watch Horne's tearful speech:

Politician's Tearful Speech on Confederate Flag Shakes SC Statehouse

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