At around four a.m. on January 6th, as the forces of reaction gathered in Washington DC, preparing to storm the Capitol in an effort to overturn the national election, legislators on Beacon Hill quietly made history by voting overwhelmingly to change the white supremacist flag and seal of Massachusetts.
Four hundred years had passed since the landing of the Pilgrims on Cape Cod. Thirty-six years had passed since former representative Byron Rushing of Boston, working with former Director of the Mass Commission on Indian Affairs and Wampanoag Medicine Man Jim Slow Turtle Peters, first introduced a resolution in the legislature to change the state flag and seal, with its invidious image of a white hand holding a Colonial sword over a Native person’s head, and the Latin motto “Peace Under the Sword….” For thirty six years, the legislature blocked passage of that resolution. Finally, the power of grass roots lobbying and the stark truth of historical genocide and ongoing injustice against the Indigenous People of this land prevailed, and the long stalled legislation passed.
After an additional six month delay, the Special Commission Relative to the Seal and Motto of the Commonwealth, which includes a strong contingent of Native leaders from the area now known as Massachusetts, will finally hold their first meeting, virtually, at 11 a.m. on Monday, July 19th.
This 19-member commission is charged with investigating the features of the official seal and motto of the Commonwealth and making recommendations to ensure they reflect and embody the historic and contemporary commitments of the Commonwealth to justice, equality, and education for all. The Commission shall make recommendations for a revised or new design of the seal and motto and an educational program on the history and meaning of the seal and motto.
This introductory meeting will focus on the structure, capacity and scope of the Commission, including introduction of Commission members, overview of the Commission’s structure, goals, and statutory charge; potential challenges facing the Commission, deadline for the Commission’s report and the nomination of a chair and vice-chair.
This virtual meeting will be viewable to the public through a livestream that can be found on
http://www.malegislature.gov website, under hearings and events. The more who pay attention to the work of the special commission, the better.