COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — More than 50 years after South Carolina raised a
Confederate flag at its Statehouse to protest the civil rights
movement, the state is getting ready to remove the rebel banner.
A bill pulling down the flag from the Capitol’s front lawn and the
flagpole it flies on passed the South Carolina House early Thursday
morning. It should get to Gov. Nikki Haley’s desk before the end of
The governor promised to sign it quickly, but didn’t say exactly when.
That’s important, because the bill requires the flag be taken down
within 24 hours of her pen hitting the paper and shipped to the
Confederate Relic Room.
There were hugs, tears and high fives in the House chamber after the
vote. Members who waited decades to see this day snapped selfies and
pumped their fists. But even among the celebrations, there was more
than a bit of sadness.
After the Civil War, the flag was first flown over the dome of South
Carolina’s Capitol in 1961 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the
war. It stayed as a protest to the Civil Rights movement, only moving
in 2000 from the dome to its current location.
The push that would bring down the Confederate flag for good only
started after nine black churchgoers, including state Sen. Clementa
Pinckney, were gunned down during Bible study at the historic Emanuel
African Episcopal Church in Charleston on June 17. Police said the
white gunman’s motivation was racial hatred. Then three days later,
photos surfaced of the suspect, Dylann Roof, holding Confederate
“I am 44 years old. I never thought I’d see this moment. I stand with
people who never thought they would see this as well,” said House
Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, who called the victims martyrs. “It’s
emotional for us not just because it came down, but why it came down.”
Republican Rep. Rick Quinn, whose amendment appeared it might at least
delay the flag’s removal for several hours, was happy too after
getting a promise that lawmakers would find money for a special
display at the Relic Room for the Confederate flag that was about to
be removed as well as the one that flew over the Statehouse dome in
2000 when a compromise was passed to move the rebel banner to its
“It was done in a way that was a win to everyone,” said Quinn, who
voted for the bill.
The back-to-back votes came around 1 a.m. Thursday after more than 13
hours of passionate and contentious debate.
As House members deliberated well into the night, there were tears of
anger and shared memories of Civil War ancestors. Black Democrats,
frustrated at being asked to show grace to Civil War soldiers as the
debate wore on, warned the state was embarrassing itself.
Changing the Senate bill could have meant it taking weeks or even
months to remove the flag, perhaps blunting momentum that has grown
since the church massacre.
Republican Rep. Jenny Horne reminded her colleagues she was a
descendent of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and scolded
fellow members of her party for stalling the debate with dozens of
She cried as she remembered Pinckney’s funeral and his widow, who was
hiding with one of their daughters in a church office as the gunman
fired dozens of shots.
“For the widow of Sen. Pinckney and his two young daughters, that
would be adding insult to injury and I will not be a part of it!” she
screamed into a microphone.
She said later during a break she didn’t intend to speak but got
frustrated with fellow Republicans.
Opponents of removing the flag talked about grandparents who passed
down family treasures and lamented that the flag had been “hijacked”
or “abducted” by racists.
Rep. Mike Pitts, who remembered playing with a Confederate ancestor’s
cavalry sword while growing up, said for him the flag is a reminder of
how dirt-poor Southern farmers fought Yankees not because they hated
blacks or supported slavery, but because their land was being invaded.
Those soldiers should be respected just as soldiers who fought in the
Middle East or Afghanistan, he said, recalling his own military
service. Pitts then turned to a lawmaker he called a dear friend,
recalling how his black colleague nearly died in Vietnam.
Black lawmakers told their own stories of ancestors. Rep. Joe Neal
talked about tracing his family back to four brothers, brought to
America in chains to be bought by a slave owner named Neal who changed
their last names and pulled them apart from their families.
“The whole world is asking, is South Carolina really going to change,
or will it hold to an ugly tradition of prejudice and discrimination
and hide behind heritage as an excuse for it,” Neal said.
Other Democrats suggested any delay would let Ku Klux Klan members
planning a rally July 18 a chance to dance around the Confederate
Instead, Democrats were using a line Gov. Haley often says, calling it
“a great day in South Carolina.”
The governor issued her own statement. “It is a new day in South
Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all
together as we continue to heal, as one people and on,” she said.
Mr. Groove on set of The H.M.G.’s new video ‘Light It Up’
We arrived a little after 4 PM last Friday at Denver’s well known artist’s haven Cold Crush on Larimer St, and sure enough, The H.M.G.was taking a small break on the outside patio. Unbeknownst to us, the hip hop trio, Mr. Groove, Par Da’ God and Poetik Genius, had already been filming since 2. Welcome to the D.O.P.E Game founder and cameraman for the shoot, Jeremy Pape, passes around a new invention of his called the ‘blunt cam’, which looked like a GoPro attached to a lit cigar.
‘”What’s good Mr. Groove?” I ask the Boss, who’s seated at one of the tables outside. “Ya’ll know I know two of my biggest supporters!” the MC responds in kind to Modesty and myself. “Let’s chop it up in a quick interview later when you’re on break” I ask while I notice a small camera with previous video footage being passed around. “Of course, we’ll be down for that” Mr. Groove says, motioning for the weed to break up for the next blunt to be prepared for the next scene.
Mr. Groove and Par Da’ God
Par Da’ God is seen in the midst of the entourage what appears to be giving a few pointers to the extras on set. He appears very focused, but enjoying the energy surrounding the day’s events so far. Moving past the crowd to the inside of Cold Crush, Modesty and I are greeted by the establishment’s friendly staff. After having a few drinks at the bar, we notice a few local artists and begin to mingle and converse, most notably meeting Leona Harper, who was recently featured on The 3hree Project’s single with FL “All or Nothing”.
Soon we make our way back to the outside deck, and even more people have arrived for the video shoot. We quickly introduce ourselves to Jeremy Pape, who’s setting up the next shot with the ‘blunt cam’. Mr.Groove pulls me to the side, and informs me that the t-shirt he’s wearing was actually designed by Jeremy’s team Welcome to the D.O.P.E. Game as well.
Poetik Genius and Prince Pat’ron
Soon Poetik Genius arrives, along with new artist (as well as Mr. Groove’s son), Prince Pat’ron on set, and the next scene is ready to begin. Passerby’s look on with subtle curiosity, as one brunette young lady asks the crew, ‘Are you guys famous?’ Par smiles and says to her, ‘We’re H.M.G., and we’re filming our new video for our single ‘Light It Up’! ‘You can catch this on YouTube!’ shouts Touch, another H.M.G.crew mate, who’s clad in a throwback Nuggets Jersey. Stick around and we might put you in the video!” ‘Cool!’ the young lady responds. ‘I just moved here to Denver, and in two days I’m already going to be in a hip hop video!’
After the scene with the ‘blunt cam’ wraps up, the H.M.G. gathers back inside for our video interview (coming later this week). We exchange opinions off camera as well, discussing the advantages and disadvantages for local talents, and their chances of creating a more solid base locally. ‘We need to unify more, and make more lanes for artists to grow.’ says Par. ‘When I lived in Atlanta for a while, if one rap crew saw another artist from another set spittin’, they would invite that dude to get on…just for the love of the growth and unity. If we could establish that here and eliminate some of this hate,Colorado could really grow musically!’ Poetik chimes in ‘Man we appreciate what you (the station) has done in support for us.’ ‘Of course, no doubt’, I respond. ‘I want to see all of CO’s artists succeed in this game, we just need more cohesion to blow The Box State to the next level.’ The rest of the group nods in agreement, and after a while, we break for a few tacos (which we found exceptional) and get ready for the final scene which takes place right in front of the main entrance to Cold Crush.
What was interesting about this experience was the love felt on set from everybody involved, and you could see that the music was the centerpiece on this project. You could see the level of dedication and preparation for this day. Under the direction of Jeremy and The H.M.G., the video extras turn it up to the excitement of more onlookers on the street. Par Da God, Poetik, Mr. Groove delivers their blistering verses, while the crowd behind them channeled their energies for the cameras. ‘Light It Up’ is from Hangman Recordings’ release ‘Cooked Raw III ’, and in 24/7 rotation right here on Rhythm Rave Radio, and it was a pleasure to be invited to take part in the creative process in putting this video together.
Check out the photos below for the behind the scenes:
The H.M.G. turns it up in front of Cold Crush during the final shoot
Prince Pat’ron and Mr. Groove showing family unity
Par Da’ God and Mr. Groove will show you how to ‘Light It Up’!
Poetik Genius spits lyrical potency to the camera
Par Da’ God lets ya’ll know why he’s the best at what he does
The Real V.I.C, Par Da’ God, and Mr. Groove on the set
The Real V.I.C, Par Da’ God, and Mr. Groove
Robert and Blake also made an appearance!
Hangman Records is gonna make you ‘Light It Up’
Jeremy Pape and Mr. Groove
The H.M.G. representing in the 303
Funk from WRRR (center) and H.M.G.
Touch came out to support the fam
Founder of Welcome to The D.O.P.E. Game Jeremy Pape
Best New Artist
Sam Smith – WINNER
Best Female Hip-Hop Artist
Nicki Minaj – WINNER
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist
Beyoncé – WINNER
Best Male R&B/Pop Artist
Chris Brown – WINNER
Chris Brown – “Loyal (feat. Lil Wayne & Tyga)”
Big Sean – “I Don’t F**k with You (feat. E-40)”
August Alsina – “No Love (Remix) [feat. Nicki Minaj]”
Common & John Legend – “Glory” – WINNER
Chris Brown – “New Flame (feat. Usher & Rick Ross)”
Mark Ronson – “Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars)”
Taraji P. Henson – WINNER
Tracee Ellis Ross
Terrence Howard – WINNER
“Beyond the Lights”
“Selma” ** WINNER
“Think Like a Man Too”
Best Gospel Artist
Lecrae – WINNER
Video of the Year
Beyoncé – “7/11″ – WINNER
Chris Brown – “New Flame (feat. Usher & Rick Ross)”
Chris Brown – “Loyal (feat. Lil Wayne & Tyga)”
Big Sean – “I Don’t F**k with You (feat. E-40)”
Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”
Common & John Legend – “Glory”
Video Director of the Year
Beyoncé, Ed Burke & Todd Tourso – WINNER
Sportswoman of the Year
Serena Williams – WINNER
Sportsman of the Year
Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Stephen Curry – WINNER
Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award
Beyoncé – “7/11″
Dej Loaf – “Try Me”
Kendrick Lamar – “i”
Nicki Minaj – “Only feat. Drake, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown)” – WINNER
Rae Sremmurd – “Throw Sum Mo (feat. Nicki Minaj & Young Thug)”
The Weeknd – “Earned It”
Avery Sunshine – “Call My Name”
Jazmine Sullivan – “Dumb (feat. Meek Mill)”
Mark Ronson – “Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars)”
Sam Smith – “Stay with Me (feat. Mary J. Blige)”
The Weeknd – “Earned It” – WINNER
A day of celebration was also a day of mourning, honoring lives lost and remembering that there’s still so much work to be done.
After lauding the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on same-sex marriage, President Barack Obama traveled to Charleston, S.C., for the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the 41-year-old pastor of Emanuel A.M.E. Church and state senator who was one of nine people shot dead inside the historic house of worship on June 17.
Michelle Obama was also in attendance, as were Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, Sen. John Boehner, Hillary Clinton, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley and a number of other lawmakers.
In between choir hymns and rousing sermons, Obama delivered an emotional, 38 minute eulogy to a packed T.D. Arena at the College of Charleston.
“We are here today to remember a man of God who lived by faith. A man who believed in things not seen,” said Obama. “A man who believed there were better days ahead, off in the distance. A man of service, who persevered knowing full well he would not receive all those things he was promised because he believed his efforts would deliver a better life for those who followed.”
“A sacred place, this church,” the president said. “Not just for Blacks, not just for Christians, but for every American who cares about the steady expansion of human rights and human dignity in this country…Blinded by hatred, the alleged killer could not see the grace surrounding Reverend Pinckney and that Bible study group. The light of love that showed as they opened the church doors and invited a stranger to join in their prayer circle. The alleged killer could have never anticipated the way the families of the fallen would respond when they saw him in court, in the midst of unspeakable grief, with words of forgiveness. He couldn’t imagine that.”
Obama also addressed the recent move by Gov. Haley to finally get the ball rolling on having the Confederate flag removed from outside the statehouse in Columbia.
“For too long we were blind to the pain that the Confederate flag stirred in too many of our citizens. It’s true, a flag did not cause these murders,” he said. “But as people from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats now acknowledge—including Gov. Haley, whose recent eloquence on the subject is worthy of praise—we all have to acknowledge the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride.”
He concluded, “By taking down that flag, we address God’s grace.”
Upon the conclusion of his eulogy, Obama paused and then led the congregation in a rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Today’s funeral concluded a three-day procession that started with Pinckney’s coffin lying in state in at the Capitol building in Columbia, after which he was taken to his childhood church, St. John A.M.E. in Ridgeland, and then to Emanuel A.M.E. last night.
Richard Matt, one of two escaped murderers from an upstate New York maximum-security prison, was shot and killed by officers involved in a massive three-week manhunt, three law enforcement sources said Friday.
Officers are still pursuing fugitive David Sweat but don’t have eyes on the convict, according to law enforcement sources.
A possible ending to the 21-day manhunt began around 1:30 p.m. when police received a call of shots fired near Route 30 in the vicinity of Malone, New York, according to law enforcement officials briefed on the matter. About 20 minutes later, more gunshots were heard.
The driver of a recreational vehicle called 911 when he heard the initial shots and later when he realized his camper was hit, the officials said.
About 3:45 p.m., a law enforcement officer saw a man in a wooded area in Malone, the state police said. A man believed to be Matt was shot and killed but a positive identification is pending, according to state police.
Matt approached an officer with a shotgun and was shot by a border patrol tactical team, law enforcement sources said.
Bob Willett, a Malone resident, also called 911 Friday afternoon when he found a liquor bottle on the kitchen table at his cabin, his cousin Mitch Johnson told CNN.
Willett was speaking with responding authorities in his yard when gunfire erupted behind the house, according to Johnson.
Willett was told to go into the house, where he has been since, Johnson said. Two sets of footprints were found in the area, the law enforcement officials said. The second set are believed to belong to Sweat.
The search for Sweat was unfolding around Elephant Head, northwest of Lake Titus and about 10 miles from Malone, according to Clinton County Sheriff David Favro.
At a command center near the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, law enforcement helicopters were taking off to join the search. Passing motorists honked in approval at news of Matt’s death.
The shooting occurred on a day the New York State Police reported that Matt and Sweat might have been headed to Canada.
Investigators were conducting DNA tests on potential new evidence, a source close to the investigation said.
A reported burglary led police to a cabin on Thursday in Malone, State Police spokesman Beau Duffy told CNN. Malone is about 14 miles northwest of Mountain View, where another cabin was burglarized.
Evidence found in the Malone cabin was being tested, Duffy added. At the time, the fugitives had not been seen, but “we’re certain that the evidence is conclusive,” State Police Maj. Charles Guess said Friday at a news conference.
More than 1,100 law enforcement officers have been pursuing new leads with a “high degree of confidence,” Guess said.
Two prison employees have been charged in connection with the men’s elaborate June 6 breakout, and the accusations against them highlight a a series of apparent security lapses
Investigators from the New York State Inspector General’s Office are looking into possible breaches of security protocols that allowed Matt and Sweat to escape, setting police on a vast and costly manhunt for the past three weeks.
Other agencies are conducting investigations at the prison.
Hundreds search dense woods
As the investigations into shortcomings at Clinton continued, hundreds of law enforcement officers had been searching for Sweat and Matt in a densely wooded area roughly 20 miles west of the prison.
Searchers also had been combing the thick vegetation in the area surrounding the Mountain View cabin the escapees were thought to have burglarized.
Matt, 48, and Sweat, 35, are both convicted murderers.
Matt was accused of killing a man after a dispute over money, snapping his victim’s neck and then dismembering the body.
Sweat is serving a life sentence for the killing of a sheriff’s deputy in 2002.
Sweat and another man robbed a gun store and fatally shot the deputy after he confronted them.
Verda Byrd spent the past seven decades of her life as a black woman, but at age 70, she discovered a shocking family secret her parents took to their grave that she’s recently made peace with — she was born white.
Byrd, now 72, was adopted as a baby in 1943 by her black parents, who never told her that her biological parents were actually white, she said, explaining that she only uncovered the truth in 2013 about her birth after she went on a search for her biological parents’ history.
“It was overwhelming,” she told ABC News today. “You cannot erase 70 years of your life and just accept what the papers say instantly. It’s like 70 years pass by, and in a blink of an eye, you’re a different race.”
And though her story may sound similar to that of Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP leader whose parents accused her of pretending to be black, Byrd said she wants to make it clear she and Dolezal actually are very different.
“She upsets me so much because I don’t understand why she or anyone needs to lie about their race or their ethnic group,” said Byrd, of Converse, Texas. “I did not know I was born white. She knew it.”
Byrd’s story is a complicated one, and it starts in Kansas City, Missouri, on Sept. 27, 1942, when she was born Jeanette Beagle to her white parents, Daisy Beagle and Earl Beagle, she learned from her adoption documents.
“Daisy and Earl were legally married, but Earl would go away and come back and go away in come back,” she said. “In 1943, during a time he left Daisy, she had an accident. She fell 30 feet from a Kansas City trolley and wasn’t able to care for her then five children. She was in the hospital for a year, and all of her children were placed in a children’s home.”
Though Daisy Beagle eventually took four of her children back, she left behind Byrd, who was the youngest and still a baby, and Byrd said she suspects it was because her birth mother realized she wouldn’t be able to take care of her.
Byrd was legally adopted by a black couple, Ray Wagner and Edwinna Wagner, who couldn’t have children of their own, Byrd said, adding that her name was changed to “Verda Ann Wagner.” She later married and changed her last name to Byrd.
Strangers would assume Byrd took after her light-skinned mother, Byrd said, and because she had curly hair that could be styled similarly to black women’s hair, no one in Newton, Kansas, where she grew up, questioned her about her race, she said.
“I went to a white school because our town was small and our schools weren’t segregated,” she said. “And other than my dad getting paid less than his white counterparts, my family didn’t experience much discrimination because my mom and I were lighter-skinned and there weren’t a lot of African Americans in Newton.”
The dynamics in Newton however, were much different than that of nearby segregated metropolis Topeka, where Byrd and her family sometimes attended church, she said.
“I was friends with Linda Brown, who was the daughter of the pastor of the AME church I went to youth group conferences with,” Byrd said. Brown was involved in the landmark Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, which ruled school segregation unconstitutional.
Byrd said she “lived the black experience” even more so at 21 when she moved to a black community where her aunt and uncle lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, to start work.
“I then began to have black boyfriends, go to black churches and go to black social clubs,” she said. “In church classes, I studied the [civil rights] marches and studied our black history, that kind of stuff. I knew who Martin Luther King Jr. was and what he stood for. I knew about Emmett Till, Malcolm X, the KKK, that kind of stuff. This was the era I lived and grew up in.”
Byrd eventually married a black man, who served in the Air Force, and she traveled often with him depending on where he was deployed, she said, adding that they’ve now been married for over 36 years and have one daughter together.
“Even when my mom died 30 years ago and I first discovered the adoption document with my birth name, we were traveling to Paris, Tokyo, Germany, all these places, so I didn’t really think about my birth or adoption or race,” she said.
Byrd came across the documents again in 2013, after the couple retired in Converse, Texas, a suburb outside of San Antonio.
“At that time, I thought, now I have the peace of mind to find out who this Jeanette Beagle really is,” Byrd said, explaining that she hired a researcher to help her trace her biological history and adoption records.
“I had to read them over and over and over again for two to three days,” she said, explaining that the experience was overwhelming and that she found out she actually had 10 biological siblings, only four of whom are still alive.
But today, two years after the revelation, she’s come to terms with her experience and identity, Byrd said, adding she recently reunited with some of her biological siblings.
“I’ve accepted my life, because as a trans-racial adoptee, it is what it is,” she said. “I am still comfortable as Verda Ann Wagner Byrd. When I die, and when I’m six feet under, my tombstone is not going to have the word ‘race’ on it. I’m lucky to have two moms and dads.”
As for what race she currently identifies as, Byrd said she believes she is “a beautiful black woman” and that she recently checked white, black and other on paperwork at a military hospital facility in San Antonio.
“If they need clarification, I can give it to them,” she said. “I was born white, but my whole life, I’ve lived the black experience.”