President addresses the removal of the Confederate battle flag

Dear Carolina Family,

When the Confederate battle flag is removed from the grounds of South Carolina’s seat of government tomorrow, it will mark the beginning of a new South Carolina. While it is a day that many of us have longed for, I recognize that it was intense tragedy that brought us to this point, and for that I remain sad.

When nine of our brothers and sisters, three of them USC alumni, were senselessly gunned down in a sacred place, I could not have anticipated the moving display of grace and forgiveness from family members and survivors. They responded to the actions of hate with words of love. 

During USC’s June 22 Memorial Service, I knew that I simply had to ask our state leaders to find another place for the Confederate flag—a place that would unify us rather than divide us. It was truly the easiest hard thing that I have ever done. And I know you shared Patricia and my gratitude when, on that very day, Governor Nikki Haley, surrounded by Congressional and State leaders in bi-partisan support, eloquently said, “Today we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it’s time to move the flag from the capitol grounds.”  

Nothing will ever be the same. As I travel through our state, I see even more hope and friendship in the faces I meet. I feel a renewed kindness and gentleness toward each other. We are not the same. We are a new people looking to a new future. 

Nothing will ever be the same. As I travel through our state, I see even more hope and friendship in the faces I meet. I feel a renewed kindness and gentleness toward each other. We are not the same. We are a new people looking to a new future.  

On June 22, I pledged that our University would engage in conversations that would move us forward. I thank my many university associates—students, faculty, staff, and alumni who have already stepped up to provide context, interviews, opinions, blogs and tweets. I am counting on your continued engagement in the days, months and years ahead. I thank our Board of Trustees who, 15 years ago, addressed the impact that the flag, then on the Capitol Dome, had on our university and our state.

And as the flag comes down, Carolina is preparing for a new academic year. Here, we will continue to embrace and live the tenets of the Carolinian Creed by discouraging bigotry, while striving to learn from differences in people, ideas, and opinions. USC’s motto, “Emollit Mores Nec Sinit Esse Feros,” says it perfectly, “Learning humanizes character and does not permit it to be cruel.”

Educating South Carolinians of every background is how we can honor the lives of our fallen alumni and those who worshipped with them on June 17. By providing this education, we make a major contribution to a more humane society. And this is how we will positively shape the future.

Harris Pastides