It’s the 4th of July weekend and thousands of South Carolinians crowded Columbia’s Main Street and the Statehouse steps to focus their attention on an historical event for the state that has nothing to do with politics. The last rally of this size centered on the Confederate flag being taken from the Statehouse dome. Today attention was focused on a new flag flying — the USC Gamecock flag that celebrates the school’s national championship win in NCAA baseball.
In the garnet-clad crowd comprised of black, white, young, old, Democrats and Republicans, the festive mood for many offset what has been a year of national attention for South Carolina–most of it negative. An attendee named Darlene from Columbia says:
I am so sick of everybody saying South Carolina is such a negative state and all the negative things about us in the last two years. This is awesome for our state; this is perfect for the time.
And good for the town, says new Columbia Mayor Steven Benjamin, who is glad to begin his tenure with a celebration. The day after he was elected, he was in a car accident that resulted in the other driver in fair condition and the firing of the police chief. Today, he gave the keys of the city to Coach Ray Tanner and bragged about the student athletes who brought home the first major national championship for the Columbia-based school in its 209 year history. He announced that USC had the highest grade point average (GPA) of any team in their conference.