South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley served her state and nation well. President John F. Kennedy was the youngest president and Governor Nikki Haley is the youngest governor in the history of the state of South Carolina. As the eyes of the world keenly focused on the Palmetto state, Governor Haley proved what President Kennedy declared when he said that courage is grace under pressure.
Understanding the history and culture of South Carolina takes much more than a textbook or Google search. It takes decades of living, learning, and loving a state that has a history that is as complex as any state in the union. Indeed, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the union, it fired the first shot that started the Civil War, and under Governor Haley’s quick and brilliant leadership the state avoided a race war after a white racist murdered nine African American AME church worshipers on June 17, 2015.
The past month generated millions of articles about South Carolina; however, none of them captured the essence or heart of the matter. If it had not been for the swift and incisive leadership of Governor Nikki Haley the violence in South Carolina could have triggered a race war the likes of which this nation has never seen before.
The plot to destroy America like all plots was an ambush were the good nature of innocent people was used against them. Like Pearl Harbor, it was an attack with the intent of causing a war. However today the flag of war was replaced by the flag of America and the flag of South Carolina as the only two symbols remaining on the statehouse grounds
Having lived in South Carolina before the Confederate battle flag was hoisted on top of the state capitol the present writer knew it was a symbol of segregation and racism.
Most Americans were taken by surprise by the cruelty and viciousness of the murder of nine people who were murdered after opening their doors and welcoming a person into their house of worship who came in with a plan to destroy them.
“It was an attempt to start a race war,” Charleston Senator Paul Thurmond said. “Slavery was wrong, wrong, wrong,” he said.
Governor Haley, as the leader of South Carolina along with Senator Tim Scott, and Charleston State Senator Thurmond realized almost immediately that a race war was possible if action to avert it was not taken immediately.
The Tulsa Race Riot of 1922 began with a single act and spiraled out of control because government leaders did not realize the gravity of the situation and did not act quickly. Governor Haley was on the scene in Charleston immediately and marshalled the forces of the state to capture the suspect in the murders and to alert the media and the people of South Carolina with the who, what, when, where, and why concerning the murders and the plot to start a race war.
When Adolph Hitler started the fire in the government headquarters in Germany and blamed it on the Jews, he set the course for a race war that took the lives of six million innocent Jewish people who were not able to defend themselves. Innocent men, women, and children were murdered because of hatred. The Holocaust that made the Nazi flag a symbol of race hatred and violence around the world. Slavery made the battle flag of the Confederacy a hateful symbol to African-American descendants of American slaves.
President Barack Obama praised Governor Haley because he knew how close South Carolina came to igniting a wave of retaliatory violence and destruction that would have created violence like the summer of 1968, after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that created riots in cities across America. However, it was Governor Nikki Haley that the president praise for her leadership. Haley understands the role that she played in bringing a successful conclusion to the crisis in South Carolina. In a correspondence with the present writer, Haley gave full meaning to the events that have held the world in rapt attention:
Dear Professor Metze II,
Thank you for taking the time to contact us. These have been very difficult times for South Carolina, but our hearts and minds remain fixed on the nine families and the communities shaken by this tragedy. Their grace and strength set a powerful example for us all.
Even in the midst of our grief, South Carolina set about the process of healing – not by talking about issues that divide us – but by hugging our neighbors, holding vigils, honoring those we lost, and falling to our knees in prayer. We came together as a state, as a unified people, to remember those we lost and to begin this healing process.
We’ve also come together in acknowledging that certain symbols and events of our past resonate differently among us. For some, the Confederate flag represents a history of their ancestry and heritage. For others, the flag is a deeply painful reminder of a brutally oppressive past.
Inspired by the victims’ families and the re-opening of Emanuel A.M.E. church, I felt compelled to make a statement about moving the flag from the Statehouse grounds. This is a moment in which we can say that the flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state, and that by removing a symbol that divides us, we can move forward as a state in harmony.
The time has come for us to set the flag among the other markers of our history so we can set our eyes on the great promise of a united South Carolina. God bless.
My very best,
Nikki R. Haley
The eloquent words of of the governor reflect her ability to address the concerns of a South Carolina native while dealing with one of the greatest modern day crisis in South Carolina history. Great leaders do not test the direction of the wind to make life changing decisions. Great leaders do what is right. When South Carolina and America needed her leadership she served the people of South Carolina with grace under pressure. Governor Nikki Haley served her state and nation well. She acknowledged the sacrifices of the nine South Carolinians who lost their lives because of racism and hatred.
The present writer is an alumnus of Palmetto Boy State class of 1974 and is a 5th generation native of South Carolina. His great grandfather, Samuel Metze, was an American slave in South Carolina.
The journalist would like to acknowledge the telephone call from Senator Paul Thurmond to alert the journalist of the situation in South Carolina. The timing of the retirement of the flag and all scheduled departures to South Carolina being full prevented photos of the retirement. However, the writer was given a wonderful reception and tour of the Civil War Exhibit by the staff and curator of the National Guard Museum on North Capitol and Massachusetts Avenue (directly across the street from the Post Office Museum) where there is an original Confederate flag on display in the museum.
Let there be peace on earth. Violence is never the answer. Allen University is making certain that the victims of the Charleston Massacre will never be forgotten. Examiner.com will continue to update the progress of the Allen University Memorial to those who lost their lives on June 17, 2015.