Huzzah! Seven more towns (now eight!) that we know of have voted in the last week to Change the Flag and Seal of Massachusetts.
First, on Saturday, April 27th – Leverett passed a resolution of support for H.2776 / S.1877 with only one dissenting vote! Then, in Whately, last Monday, April 29th, the person who offered to introduced the resolution apparently was not there to speak for it – so confusion reigned – some people “moved to table” the resolution – but a few supporters spoke out and it wound up passing anyway – “something like 38 – 31” according to one supporter in the room. Next up, the narrow little town of Erving, stretched out along the Baquag (Millers) River, voted even more narrowly to approve a change to the flag and seal.
After David Brule, chairperson of the Nolumbeka Project, (nolumbekaprojecct.org) spoke repeatedly and eloquently in defense of establishing a commission with Native leaders from the region to design a new state flag and seal, the Erving moderator related a little anecdote about his Native grandfather who had endured brutal racism despite his brilliance. Then, perhaps feeling like he had violated the neutrality of his office, the moderator encourage people to vote against the resolution if they wanted to.
A lot of them wanted to. He called the question for the Yeas! but 7 of the Nays stood up to demand a full standing count. In the end, the moderator announced “23 in favor of the resolution; 21 opposed. The motion carries!” (yea!)
Next: Hadley, steeped in the history of colonial conflict with Native Nation, and the point of origin for the early morning raid led by one Captain William Turner on the Native refugees escaping the widespread violence of the coastal regions and encamped on the north side of the Great Falls on May 19th, 1676, which resulted in the massacre of hundreds of old men, women and children in what is now the town of Gill, voted “60-something to 40-something” to establish the special commission and change the flag and seal. Thank you Michele and Andy Friedman for bring the warrant forward and all your great work organizing support in Hadley!
Cummington, home to the 19th century abolitionist editor of the New York Post William Cullen Bryant and the Old Coop Creamery, home to the best fresh sesame broccoli tofu salad on Route 9, voted on Friday to change the flag, closely followed by the towns of Plainfield on Saturday and the town of Montague on Saturday.
So far: seventeen cities and towns (that we know of – we have not heard yet from Ashfield – which held annual town meeting on Saturday, May 4th, but we have high hopes there) have held votes on resolution of support for H.2776 / S.1877 – and every one of them has voted to change the white supremacist flag and seal of Massachusetts!!
The list so far: Amherst, (late breaking news: Ashfield!) Cummington, Erving, Gill, Greenfield (unanimous), Hadley, Leverett, Lincoln, Montague, New Salem, Northampton, Orange, Plainfield, Provincetown (unanimous), Sunderland, Wendell (unanimous), and Whately.
Hold the Presses!!
This just in from Mollie Babize in Ashfield, who came to our rescue when we could not find any of the usual suspects to carry the petition and gather signatures up in that forward looking hilltown, which supported Jessie Jackson for president.
“Yes!” It passed she tells us this morning….
“Last item on the warrant. Two spoke out in opposition: one who has fond memories from childhood of that noble figure and loves the history of Natives welcoming Puritans (!) and the other (on Select Board) worrying about the cost of changing all the plaques, flags, other places it appears (including, our police chief said, on each uniform) when there are so many other priorities that need to be addressed. I had asked a former selectman and retired history professor Don Robinson to speak up, and he addressed it perfectly by referring to Lincoln, who said the morality of the issue of slavery outweighed any economic cost. (Johnson too, about civil rights.) and the police chief said to me afterwards she’d gladly pay for the new uniform if need be. So a small pocket of naysayers, but the resolution passed overwhelmingly.”
We appear to be gaining some momentum in Franklin and Hampshire County.
If you would like to help get a resolution to support changing the flag and seal on your city council agenda or fall town meeting warrant, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-863-9296 for more information.
And please, go to http://maindigenousagenda.org/
to find out all you need to know to support the legislative package on Native concerns – including Tuesday’s upcoming hearing (5/7/19 in the afternoon at the statehouse) on changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day in Massachusetts.
Together, we will change the flag and seal of Massachusetts, and drop the name of Columbus – perhaps the first European slaver to drop anchor off Turtle Island – from our list of national holidays.