These past three weeks have been difficult for our State. We lost a beloved Senator, and 8 other souls by the racist acts of a man seeking to pour salt into already deep wounds. The killer asked for a race war, but the families and fellow parishioners of the slain and the people of South Carolina defied his actions with grace and courage. Our state leaders took a step that is decades in waiting by removing the Confederate battle flag from our statehouse grounds. Instead of dividing us as a state, one man’s act of terror brought out our best. As a state we responded by coming together to take down the flag. SC Appleseed wants to thank the people of South Carolina, the governor and the leadership in both the House and Senate for taking quick action to retire this symbol and move our state forward.
Although removing that flag was a big step that has been a long time coming, it is just the first step towards equality and justice for all in our state. We have too many people who live in poverty, despite working as hard as they can. Hunger is prevalent in our youngest and oldest residents with one in four at risk of hunger. Affordable housing and child care are lacking. We seemingly place no value on or allow for high quality education in the schools of the state’s poorest counties. We have a healthcare gap that keeps our lowest income South Carolinians from accessing quality affordable healthcare due to our failure to accept Medicaid funds through the Affordable Care Act.
The confederate battle flag is a symbol, but the poverty we allow people of our state to live in is the legacy of the racism and inequality it symbolizes which we have neglected for too long. We cannot remove the symbol and then ignore the problems that many of our good people are facing every day. This morning, we applauded the hard work of our elected leaders in taking down the flag, but now it is time to start the harder work. We must address the ravages of poverty and racism and the lingering impact that they have on the good people of our state. Funding our schools, closing the healthcare gap through Medicaid Expansion, increasing our affordable housing stock, ending predatory lending and demanding workers be paid a living wage are real solutions to these problems. We at SC Appleseed will continue to work on those and other issues facing the poorest South Carolinians to honor those we lost with necessary and deserved change.