Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley urged lawmakers to vote in favour of removing the Confederate flag from state grounds, otherwise she will use executive power granted to her to do so herself.
The debate stemmed following a white gunman killing nine people at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina last week.
Following campaigns garnering a lot of support over social media and political leaders speaking out against the Confederate flags presence, seen by many as a symbol of hatred and racism, Gov. Haley spoke from the Capitol avowing for its removal.
"Today we are here in a moment of unity in our state without ill will to say it is time to move the flag from the capitol grounds,” the governor said, surrounded by a group of lawmakers.
“One-hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come,” she added.
About 1,500 demonstrators in the state capital Columbia, the majority of them white, called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state house because of what some people see as its racist associations.
Walmart, the US’ largest retail outlet has said to CNN that they will remove all confederate flag based merchandise from all of their stores.
In South Carolina, it first flew atop the Statehouse in 1962 in direct opposition to civil rights efforts. The flag was removed from the roof of the state house in 2000 and placed on a monument to the confederate soldier near the legislature. Calls were growing for its removal.
A photo of the shooter, Dylan Roof, appeared on a website believed to belong to the shooter, shows the man holding a handgun and a small Confederate flag. He is also pictured on a beach crouching by white supremacist symbols scrawled in the sand.
Another photograph sees the shooter wearing a jacket with flags of apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia, a country known today as Zimbabwe and especially racist during the 60s and 70s.
Law in South Carolina requires at least a two thirds vote in favour of removing the confederate flag in order to change legislation.
Haley said, the flag will not be restricted from being displayed in private property.
“But the statehouse is different, and the events of this past week call upon us to look at this in a different way,” she added.
The Confederate flag also appears as an emblem on the flag of the state of Mississippi.
Debate over the banner of the Confederacy has continued for decades between those who feel it is a symbol of free speech, and others who see it as a symbol of white supremacy.