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Plea by Jefferson Davis descendant spurs SC flag vote

Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Summerville, speaks in favor of taking down the Confederate flag during debate over a Senate bill calling for the flag to be removed from the Capitol grounds, Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. The House is under pressure to act after the state Senate passed its own measure, which is supported by Gov. Nikki Haley. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — An impassioned plea by a descendant of the Confederate president seemed to swing momentum as South Carolina legislators debated whether to remove the rebel battle flag from the Statehouse grounds.

Republicans offered dozens of amendments during the 14-hour debate, and even one would have delayed the flag’s removal. Many spoke of Southern heritage and cited family connections to Confederate soldiers.

Rep. Jenny Horne, a 42-year-old white Republican lawyer, then took the microphone to scold her colleagues.

“I have heard enough about heritage,” Horne said, her tearful voice rising to a shout. “I am a descendant of Jefferson Davis, OK? But that does not matter. It’s not about Jenny Horne. It’s about the people of South Carolina who have demanded that this symbol of hate come off of the Statehouse grounds.”

The debate seemed to turn after that. By early Thursday, representatives approved the same bill that already passed the Senate, enabling Gov. Nikki Haley’s office to announce that the flag would come down on Friday.

Horne, whose district includes the overwhelmingly white Charleston suburb of Summerville, cried as she remembered the funeral of Sen. Clementa Pinckney, who was killed along with eight other African-American worshippers during their Bible study in a Charleston church last month.

“I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on Friday!” she shouted. “For the widow of Sen. Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury and I will not be a part of it!”

It took several more hours after Horne’s plea, but the chamber met her deadline, voting overwhelmingly to remove the flag within 24 hours.

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

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