Nikki Haley Honored With Harvard Foundation Racial Justice Award

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley Honored With Harvard Foundation Racial Justice Award

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was honored on by the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations for her leadership in removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol building grounds this summer. The award was given at a dinner ceremony by Harvard Foundation Director S. Allen Counter at Winthrop House in Harvard College, Cambridge, Mass on October 1st, 2015.

In her speech, Haley talked of a “New South” that was tackling historical problems of racial and economic inequality, the Harvard Crimson reported in its online edition. Haley also indicated the Republican Party was committed to solving the problems of the poor and people of color in her state. “I would not have won the Republican primary if this were a racially intolerant party,” she is quoted saying in the Crimson.

Haley is considered a “Rising Star” in the party, and her national image rose dramatically following her decision to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds after the massacre of 9 black members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. by white supremacist Dylann Roof.

Haley spoke about the difference between how South Carolinians responded to the massacre compared to the violence that ensued in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland, after killings of unarmed blacks at the hands of police there. The uprisings, she said, hurt black people already facing police violence whereas in South Carolina people came together to mourn the loss of life.

Harvard Foundation Director S. Allen Counter presented her with an award of appreciation for her calls to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol this past summer. In remarks in Winthrop House, Haley described the bright future of a “New South” dedicated to tackling historical problems of racial and economic inequality. She also offered a defense of the Republican Party and its values in solving problems for low-income people and people of color in her state.

Haley entered the political spotlight this summer after nine black members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., were shot and killed, allegedly in a racially motivated attack by Dylann Roof. Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol in the wake of the killings, and many people throughout the country celebrated her subsequent signing of the bill that took the flag down.

Reflecting on her choice to call for the removal of the flag, Haley said that “the State House belongs to all people, and it needed to be welcoming to all people. That was not possible with the flag flying,” she concluded.

Haley spoke in depth about how South Carolina residents responded to this summer’s massacre, contrasting it with the violence that erupted in cities like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore after killings of unarmed black people at the hands of police there.

Haley, while maintaining that “black lives do matter,” argued that the uprisings in other cities in fact hurt black people who face police violence. Charleston, in contrast, saw no violence in the wake of the church massacre, with Haley describing the local reaction as a peaceful coming together to mourn the loss of life. Haley met with University President Drew G. Faust and Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana during her visit, according to Counter.

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