Well, it’s over. The flag is down. It gives me great hope that our legislators have done the right thing as they voted for its removal.

I watched some of the debate in the House, and emotions ran high. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re a Southerner, you have strong emotions on two things — the war and college football.

It’s OK to feel; it’s OK to let those emotions surface. At the end of the day our legislators did the right thing, and we can close this chapter of South Carolina history.

We all know that the removal of the flag will not eliminate racism. The sad nature of the human condition being what it is, racism will always exist, just as other prejudices will always exist. A world without prejudice is a dream; file it under notgonnahappen.com.

Sometimes, when a flag comes down, it’s a surrender. I don’t view this as a surrender at all. The flag coming down here is a symbol that all of us have to be mindful of our brothers and sisters. After all, we’re all in this together.

The flag in Columbia is down: Now it’s time for the flags in our hearts — all of our hearts, whether we’re black, white, red or brown — to come down.

Bill Bates

Gibbon Street

Daniel Island