In the wake of the Charleston shooting tragedy, we wrote of the need for leaders “with the heart to speak truth and the courage to lead us toward a better way.” This week, the vast majority of South Carolina legislators crossed racial, economic, faith and party lines to answer the call. Former State editorial writer Brad Warthen beautifully captured this week’s historic significance…
“…But that all happened in the old South Carolina, which ceased to exist not the night that Sen. Clementa Pinckney and eight of his flock were murdered in cold blood. It ended two days later, when the families of the slain forgave the young man charged with taking their loved ones away.
The new South Carolina was born in that moment, in that courtroom. Hatred and death didn’t bring it into being. The love of the living did.
A chain reaction of grace started there, and its radiance shone forth from Charleston. The nation marveled: Why were they not seeing another Ferguson, another Baltimore? How can this black-white lovefest be?
A series of governors had, to varying degrees, brushed off the flag. . (Although both David Beasley and Jim Hodges sought compromises.) And now here was one saying, without any mention of compromises, “It’s time to move the flag from the capitol grounds.” Period. God bless Nikki Haley for actively stepping out to lead this new South Carolina, a state that would be ashamed to engage in the games of the past — a state that couldn’t look at those victims’ families and respond any other way. A state that had grown up.
Standing behind her on that miraculous day, three days after the arraignment, was a cross-section of our political leadership — black and white, Democratic and Republican. The chairmen of the two parties, whose rivalry was defined by the division that flag represented, literally stood shoulder-to-shoulder.
Things like this don’t happen in South Carolina. Or rather, they didn’t happen in the old South Carolina.
Anything can happen now. Anything…”
We couldn’t agree more. Working together to build on and steward this good will, we really can create a new South Carolina: a Palmetto State where every citizen has the opportunity to reach their full, God-given potential.