Carolina's Confederate flag is finally lowered

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The Independent US

The Confederate flag still flew over the Statehouse in South Carolina yesterday, but its days are numbered.

The Confederate flag still flew over the Statehouse in South Carolina yesterday, but its days are numbered.

The long and bitter dispute over the flag, which symbolises history and past sacrifice to some white Southerners, and racism and oppression to most black Americans, was close to an end.

The state Senate was to pass a Bill that would move the flag to a much less prominent place in the grounds of the statehouse, near a monument for Confederate dead of the Civil War.

South Carolina has been hit by a boycott launched by the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, America's foremost black civil rights organisation. By some accounts it lost £4.2m in tourism revenue, and prominent sports stars, including the tennis player Serena Williams, refused to play in the state.

The asssociation still insisted yesterday that the flag be removed completely before the boycott stopped, but the move seemed set to end the row.

"The NAACP could come to accept the flag at the monument to the Confederate soldiers,"' said Senator Ralph Anderson, a black politician who backed the compromise. "I think they know this is better than what we had. I think the nation will understand that."

The flag was put up at the height of the civil rights era in 1962 and, for some in South Carolina, clearly symbolised opposition to the change in the position of black people in the South. It has been controversial since, but the campaign to remove it gained momentum only in the past year.

Even the toughest defenders of the flag said they believed the compromise represented the best end to the argument, which also surfaced as an issue in the United States elections.

"We have fought this thing and we have fought this thing, and the olive branch is now out on both sides," said Senator Glenn McConnell, one of the foremost advocates of flying the flag.

Now only the Stars and Stripes and the South Carolina state flag, an elegant design with a crescent moon and a palmetto tree, will fly above Columbia, the state capital.

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