South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said that the national spotlight on her state following the fallout from the Confederate flag is "painful."
"It's painful because nine people died. Nine people died in Charleston. What we've been dealing with is nine funerals," Haley said on NBC Sunday. "That's what I want people talking about — the Emanuel Nine that forever changed South Carolina and changed this country and showed what love and forgiveness looks like."
The confessed shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, had posted photos of himself posing with the Confederate flag before the massacre. The Confederate flag was removed from South Carolina's Capitol grounds in Columbia on Friday morning.
Haley expressed hope that removing the flag will pave the way for better things in South Carolina.
"It is a new day for South Carolina," she said. "It felt like a weight had been lifted off the state of South Carolina. The flag coming down is a thing I believe needed to happen."
The ceremony on Friday morning was peaceful and moving, she said, and she hopes it is proof that her state is heading away from the rebel flag, seen as symbol of racism.
"We've already been moving in this direction. We're not the state that everybody thinks we are," she said. "We didn't have people getting out of hand — we had hugs. We love our God, we love our country, we love our state and we love each other."