The South Carolina State Senate today voted 36-3 to approve a measure to remove the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds.
The vote means the Confederate battle flag will be removed from the state house, where it has flown for five decades despite being a symbol of slavery, adopted to send a message of white supremacy throughout the South.
A bill to banish the flag from the Capitol grounds to a museum easily passed a third and final vote in the Senate by a 36-3 margin and is now headed for debate in the state's House of Representatives.
The legislation, deemed a non-starter only months ago, has garnered strong bipartisan support after the June 17 killings of nine African-American churchgoers during Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in the port city of Charleston, about two hours south of the state capital Columbia. Photos of the white man charged in the shooting showed him posing with the flag on a website that also carried a racist manifesto.
Support for the flag has evaporated in a wave of sympathy for the victims and their families, who were widely acclaimed for expressing unconditional forgiveness for the shooter at his bond hearing less than 48 hours after the murders.