Senate Chaplain Barry Black took a moment to praise the South Carolina state government Thursday morning, after it voted to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds.
"Guide us with your powerful hands," Black, the first African-American Senate chaplain, said in his opening prayer. "And Lord we praise you for the courage of the South Carolina legislature."
Black's comments came at the same time the House floor was erupting at the news that Republican leaders had decided Wednesday evening to bring a contentious amendment to the floor allowing Confederate flag imagery to remain displayed on graves on federal land. Under pressure, GOP leaders pulled that vote late Thursday morning.
Senate Chaplain Praises 'Courage' of South Carolina Legislature
House Democrats, including leaders such as Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland and Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, took to the floor Thursday morning, standing next to a poster displaying the Confederate battle flag, imploring that it be barred from national parks.
Early Thursday, the South Carolina House joined the Senate in overwhelmingly passing a bill to remove the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds. The bill heads to Republican Gov. Nikki R. Haley's desk, who is expected to sign it. Calls to remove the flag came after the racially motivated murders of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., on June 18.
The Senate Chaplain's office did not return a request for comment on why Black chose to highlight the South Carolina. But it doesn't come to much surprise, as he has routinely used his post to touch on issues of the day, notably during the 2013 government shutdown.
"I don’t think that my prayers are ever pedestrian,” Black told CQ Roll Call in 2012. “There’s always an earnestness and fervency that reflects the challenging times we’ve been going through.”
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