Tragedy struck Charleston, South Carolina, last week when a 21-year-old white male named Dylann Roof shot and killed nine black people in the middle of their worship at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

As police took Roof into custody, pictures of him next to his car license plate, which displays a Confederate flag, surfaced on social media.

The public quickly viewed the shooting as an act of racism, renewing a nationwide debate over one of the most controversial Southern symbols: the Confederate flag.

Since 1961, the Confederate flag has waved at the Capitol of South Carolina.

The South Carolina House recently passed an amendment allowing debate to remove the Confederate flag from Capitol grounds.

Eight South Carolina lawmakers recently expressed how strongly they opposed  the removal of the Confederate flag, according to

State Rep. Mike Burns said the flag is a way to remember his heritage.

However, a symbol that many white supremacy groups use in their efforts to convince others that black people don’t deserve freedom is not an honorable emblem of heritage. State Rep. Bill Chumley said the issue of the Confederate flag doesn’t need to be discussed further, as it was decided in a 2000 compromise to move the flag from the Statehouse dome to the Capitol grounds.

“This needs to go no further,” Chumley said. “It has been settled already. A compromise is a compromise.”

How ignorant to think that because an issue was visited once, it never needs to be dealt with again.

State Rep. Christopher Corley said that he will do anything he can to keep the flag where it is.

“If I have to put 500 amendments on this thing to keep it there, then I will do it,” Corely said. “This is a non-issue that’s being made an issue by certain groups trying to take advantage of a terrible situation,” Corely said.

It does not matter if the Confederate flag was the central reason for the Charleston shooting or not. The flag represents a time when black people were bound to slavery.

The flag should be taken down.

South Carolina and other Southern states seceded from the Union because they refused to give up the practice of enslaving other human beings.

We understand that pro-slavery ideas and attitudes was not the only thing the Confederate army was fighting for. There were many other state’s rights issues; however, the issue of slavery not only carries heavier weight than the other issues, but also is what many people associate with the Confederate flag.

Sometimes symbols take on a meaning of their own over time, such as the swastika in Germany, which was originally created to mean good fortune or well-being but has evolved into a major symbol of hate toward Jewish people.

Germany eventually outlawed displaying the swastika as any form of fashion.

We don’t need to forget the original meaning of it completely, which is why swastikas are displayed in many museums. The appropriate place for confederate flags to be displayed is in someone’s personal space or in museums for those who wish to honor them.

We should not wave a symbol that many find offensive in any of our states’ capitols. Confederate flags have taken on a negative meaning.

Those who argue that the flag is a memorial for soldiers fighting in the Civil War should know that the Confederate flag we see today is not even one of the three original flags adopted by the Confederacy. It was actually the battle flag of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

As racism and segregation swept the nation, the Confederate flag became a divisive and violent emblem of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups.

Because of that, the Confederate flag that waves today has evolved into a symbol of racism and hate. If you want to display your heritage, why not choose something that is not deeply rooted to pro-slavery?

“To call the flag ‘heritage’ is to gloss over the ugly reality of history,” said Sally Kohn, a CNN political commentator.

Many people already carry around the weight of the dark times in African American history; they don’t need a waving symbol of hate to remind them of it.

Alyssa Fletcher copy