ATLANTA - Calls to remove Confederate imagery from public places multiplied rapidly across the South and beyond Tuesday, with opponents eyeing state flags, license plates, and statues of Civil War politicians and generals, and a growing number of retailers saying they will no longer sell Confederate memorabilia.
The startling movement, driven by the killing of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., has made converts of politicians who have long supported or stood silent on such symbols. Many of the efforts appear to have the muscle to succeed.
On Tuesday in South Carolina, members of the state House voted 103-10 to consider removing the Confederate battle flag from their Statehouse grounds. Prodded by Gov. Nikki Haley's call the day before to move the flag to a museum, lawmakers approved a measure enabling a flag debate.
Elsewhere Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, pressed for his state to stop issuing license plates with the insignia and to replace those already on the road. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, both Republicans, said they wanted to get rid of the license plates in their states.
Also in Tennessee, Democratic and Republican lawmakers called for a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and an early leader in the Ku Klux Klan, to be removed from an alcove outside the Senate chambers at the Statehouse where it has been displayed for decades.
In Kentucky, the Republican candidate for governor, Matt Bevin, and Sen. Mitch McConnell said that a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis should be removed from its Capitol rotunda, where it sits just feet from a statue of Abraham Lincoln.
In Alabama, the longest-serving black state legislator said he plans to introduce a resolution that would remove the Confederate flags that fly outside the Alabama Capitol next to a towering monument to Confederate soldiers.
In Mississippi, top state Republicans were split over the state's flag, the last of the 50 state banners to include a specific image of the battle flag. House Speaker Philip Gunn said Monday that the image, which appears in a corner of the Mississippi flag, is offensive and should be removed.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves responded Tuesday that the decision should be up to Mississippians, who voted 2-1 in 2001 to keep the flag. Gov. Phil Bryant, also a Republican, said he supported that referendum result.
Chris McDaniel, a state senator and tea party hero who nearly unseated Sen. Thad Cochran last year, decried Gunn's call. "A cultural or historical cleansing of all things potentially offensive will do nothing to alleviate the problems caused by racism," he said.
Meanwhile, businesses were also moving with breathtaking speed to remove the symbol from their inventory. Within the space of less than 24 hours, the retail giants Wal-Mart, Sears, eBay, and Amazon all announced they would no longer sell Confederate-themed merchandise.
In Pennsylvania, the Valley Forge Flag Co., a leading flagmaker based in Wyomissing, whose products have accompanied soldiers into battle and astronauts to the moon, said it would cease to make the Stars and Bars.
"When you have a sea-change moment like you have with the tragedy in Charleston, we felt it was simply the right thing to do," Valley Forge vice president Reggie VandenBosch said. "We don't want to do anything that causes pain or disunity for people."
At the Wal-Mart in North Charleston, S.C., employees said that the store pulled all Confederate flag items three days ago.
Where they once would have been, shelves were stuffed with American flags. Shopper Carol Lincoln, 56, an African American nurse from Charleston, said she supported the removal of Confederate memorabilia.
"Yes, take it down, down, down. Take it down so there will be peace in South Carolina," she said. "The meaning of it got twisted somewhere. That twist led to terrible things happening."
Also, NASCAR, a sport with a rich southern heritage, announced Tuesday that it supported removing the flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse.
NASCAR has a long-standing policy of not allowing the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity, which will remain in place.
"While NASCAR recognizes that freedom of expression is an inherent right of all citizens," it said Tuesday, "we will continue to strive for an inclusive environment at our events."
Amid the push to remove the flag from prominent display, there was also resistance. Amazon registered a surge of buyers for Confederate-themed merchandise in the hours before the company decided to quit selling it.