Hillary Clinton Celebrates Confederate Flag's Removal At MLK Day Ceremony

"That flag always belonged in a museum, not at the statehouse."
Sean Rayford via Getty Images

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton praised South Carolina for removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds in Columbia as roughly 1,000 gathered to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy.

Monday's "King Day at the Dome" celebration marked the first time the state has officially honored Martin Luther King Jr. Day without the racist symbol flying above the crowd. Civil rights activists had previously used the holiday to call for the flag's removal.

"How wonderful it is to be here together without the Confederate flag overhead," Clinton said. "That flag always belonged in a museum, not at the statehouse."

The Confederate flag was removed from the statehouse in July, less than a month after nine people were shot and killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic black church in Charleston. The flag had flown over the state capitol for more than 50 years.

"It's a great day in South Carolina," Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said.

Clinton praised Haley and the state legislature for taking swift action on the flag, but also credited activist Bree Newsome for taking the matter into her own hands and "shimmying up that flagpole."

"Every year, you've gathered right here and said that that symbol of division and racism went against everything Dr. King stood for," Clinton continued. "We couldn’t celebrate him and the Confederacy, we had to choose. And South Carolina finally made the right choice."

Clinton joined Democratic rivals Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley at Monday's ceremony one day after the three candidates debated in Charleston, South Carolina -- one block away from Emanuel AME. Unlike in last week's Republican debate, the issue of race came up repeatedly in Sunday's forum.

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