One Week to Go – Will the House Vote to Change the Mass Flag and Seal?

The Massachusetts legislature has just a week to go before the current session ends on January 5th, 2021. S.2848, the bill to change the white supremacist state flag and seal of Massachusetts, which was approved unanimously in the state Senate in July, would certainly pass if the Democratic leaders of the Massachusetts House of Representatives would allow it to move forward to a final vote. We have commitments from a majority of the 160 members of the House to vote in favor of the bill. We have commitments from the leaders of the 30-member Republican minority in the House to support the bill. We have commitments from 20 of the 32 members of the House Ways and Means Committee to vote in favor of S.2848. The governor has indicated he would sign it.

All we need is for House speaker Robert DeLeo and the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee Aaron Michlewitz to allow the bill to actually be voted on. On a matter of racial justice – isn’t that what Democrats in a supposedly progressive state are supposed to do?

Please take a minute or two out of your day today to write to Speaker of the Massachusetts House Robert DeLeo (use the following email to reach his office: Robert.DeLeo@mahouse.gov ) and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Aaron Michlewitz ( Aaron.M.Michlewitz@mahouse.gov ) and urge them to bring S.2848 forward to a final vote. A sample letter is below, which you could copy and paste. Or better yet, write your own, expressing the feelings in your heart on this matter.

With one week to go, Massachusetts still has time to follow the lead of Mississippi and strike the last, disgraceful, state flag of white supremacy still flying from the land. Please help us do just that.

Sample Letter:

Dear Speaker DeLeo and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Aaron Michlewitz:

I am writing to ask you to allow the bill to change the state flag and seal of Massachusetts to move forward to a final vote, as a first step in acknowledging and rectifying the harms done to Native Americans in the past. Four hundred years after the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, it is long past time for Massachusetts to begin to reckon with its racist and damaging history.

Please allow S.2848, the long stalled racial justice legislation to establish a special commission, inviting Native leaders to sit with state legislators to change the state flag and seal, to move forward for a final vote this session. After 36 years of continuing legislative delay, now the time has come to change the flag and seal of Massachusetts, with its invidious image of a white hand holding a Colonial sword over the head of an Indigenous person, and the Latin motto: “Peace Under the Sword….”

This year, Mississippi finally voted to retire the Confederate battle symbol from its state flag, leaving Massachusetts with the last overt state banner of white supremacy still flying in the land. This image is a disgrace to the progressive traditions of our Commonwealth, an offense to Native people, and an embarrassment to all who uphold the values of racial justice.

In July, the Senate voted unanimously in favor of S.2848. Now the House Ways and Means Committee must act favorably, and the full House must follow. After 36 years of stalling, the time has come to change the flag and seal of Massachusetts. As a long awaited reckoning with racial justice sweeps across the land, please, do not leave Massachusetts behind, still clinging to this hideous symbol of white supremacy.

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