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Jenny Horne, Lawmaker Who Took Stand on Confederate Flag, Has Deep S.C. Roots

In Wednesday night's debate over the Confederate flag, the passionate Republican lawmaker whose ancestry comes from Confederacy couldn't hold back.

Jenny Horne was unstoppable.

Nothing was going to keep the lawmaker from getting the Confederate flag taken down. Not her fellow Republican representatives, many of whom weren't in favor of its removal. Not her deep South Carolina roots.

Not even the fact that Confederate president Jefferson Davis is her ancestor.

And so on Wednesday evening, after listening to the South Carolina House of Representatives spend hours delaying the passage of a vote that would bring the flag down, Horne got out of her seat.

She hadn't prepared anything to say. But she couldn't hold back anymore.

"I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on Friday," Horne, 42, cried from the podium, shaking her finger at other lawmakers.

RELATED: Jenny Horne Gives Tearful, Moving Speech in Flag Debate

"I will not vote to amend this bill today. We may visit this another session, another year, but if we amend this bill, we are telling the people of Charleston, 'We don't care about you,'" she yelled, unable to hold back tears. "Remove this flag, and do it today, because this issue is not getting any better with age."

Horne's passionate, four minute-long soliloquy was met with a standing ovation in the statehouse — and wide praise across a nation still grieving the June 17 murders of nine parishioners at a black Charleston church.

"I felt like somebody needed to stand up and speak on their behalf, and speak about what has brought us to this moment. I felt like it was my duty to do that."

Officials say the killings were racially motivated. After the massacre, photos emerged showing Dylann Roof, the self-confessed gunman, holding the Confederate flag.

One of those killed, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was a state senator. Horne told lawmakers — who, after 13 hours of debate, voted to remove the Confederate flag from Capitol grounds — that voting for anything but the flag's immediate removal would be "adding insult to injury" to Pinckney's widow and two young daughters.

Horne's district includes Charleston. She told MSNBC on Thursday that she was "frustrated that the debate wasn't centered around the victims."

"I felt like somebody needed to stand up and speak on their behalf, and speak about what has brought us to this moment. I felt like it was my duty to do that," she said. "It's humbling to know that I changed the debate, but it was entirely impromptu. I just spoke from the heart."

RELATED: South Carolina House Votes to Remove Confederate Flag From Capitol

Horne has lifelong ties to South Carolina. Born and raised in Summerville, South Carolina — the birthplace of the quintessential southern drink, sweet tea — she went to the University of South Carolina for a Bachelor's in English and graduated from University of South Carolina School of Law in 1997.

She's been a legislator for seven years, and a lawyer for the better part of two decades. She and her husband, who grew up in the same county, have a son and daughter.

Horne dedicates much of her work to children. She volunteers as the head of Communities in Schools of Dorchester County, a non-profit that tries to lower drop-out rates by offering free after-school programs.

In March, she proposed eliminating some sales tax exemptions that would inject more than $1 billion into South Carolina schools and roads.

The Confederate flag isn't the first controversial issue about which she has been passionate. Last year, she championed legislation that decriminalized the use of marijuana extract for medicinal purposes.

But her passion has also raised eyebrows: Last October, when she was representing plaintiffs in lawsuits against the Department of Social Services, a DSS attorney called her out for participating on a Senate panel investigating DSS. Horne dismissed the allegations as a “desperate attempt to distract the public from the massive problems at DSS.”

She serves on the House Ethics Committee and is chair of the special laws subcommittee for the House Judiciary Committee. Before Wednesday night, she was a virtual no-name on the national stage: She has less than 1,500 Twitter followers. She hadn't tweeted anything in more than a year until her speech went viral.

She told MSNBC that as a lifelong South Carolinian, she understands the pros and cons of taking down the Confederate flag.

"I did the right thing, and doing the right thing is sometimes a hard thing to do," she said.