Newburyport residents are urging the City Council to replace the Massachusetts flag and seal, citing its problematic imagery and promotion of the state’s racist history. The Council received a resolution on February 27, requesting their support for the work of the Special Commission Relative to the Seal and Motto of the Commonwealth.
The Commission recommended replacing the seal and flag to better represent the diverse residents of Massachusetts. The resolution was subsequently referred to the General Government Committee in a 9-2 vote on the same day.
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Newburyport Residents Advocate for Replacing Massachusetts Flag and Seal
Newburyport residents Marianna Vesey and Linda Lu Burciaga have been advocating for a resolution to replace the Massachusetts flag and seal, citing that 55 other municipalities have already implemented this change.
They also claim that many other municipalities are currently considering the same resolution. This comes as the U.S. and Massachusetts flags fly at half staff in front of the Hancock building on April 16, 2013, near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Vesey asserted that the state seal promotes the notion that White people hold dominance and must suppress Native Americans through a “violent and colonial” representation. She further explained that our White supremacist culture has enabled the Native American world to vanish, and their existence must be acknowledged and respected.
Burciaga criticized the state flag and seal as “problematic.” She claimed that both the flag and the seal feature a White hand wielding a Colonial sword above a Native American person. Moreover, the emblems contain the Latin maxim “Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem,” meaning “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.”
Advocate Urges for Accurate Education and Removal of Problematic Depiction in Massachusetts Flag and Seal
Burciaga explained that the belt depicted on the state seal was inspired by the red flannel belt of Wampanoag leader Metacomet, who led the first Native American war of resistance against English colonization. She further added that Metacomet’s severed head was displayed on a pike in Plymouth for over 20 years as a war trophy. Burciaga emphasized that this is just one aspect of the problematic depiction on the seal and flag.
Moreover, Burciaga called for more extensive curriculum in local schools to educate the youth about Native American culture and the true history of the state. She asserted that the current education system does not accurately teach the history of the state.
Advocates Call for Education Reform and Removal of Native American Mascots in Massachusetts to Combat Racist Culture
“The majority of schools fail to teach the youth about the true history of the state. This includes the appropriation of Native American artifacts and mascots. It is not simply a matter of symbolic change like replacing the state seal and flag or renaming Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Education is an ongoing process that we should be committed to for the rest of our lives,” Burciaga said.
Vesey, who initiated the resolution after successfully changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day, emphasized the need to replace Native American-associated mascots and to address the state’s “racist culture.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Massachusetts residents are pushing for a new state flag design because they believe that the current flag and seal promote the state’s racist history. They argue that the flag and seal depict a white hand grasping a Colonial sword over the head of a Native American person, which is a colonializing and violent depiction that promotes white supremacy.
The Massachusetts flag and seal depict a white hand holding a Colonial sword over the head of a Native American person. The Latin motto “Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem” is written on the seal, which translates to “She seeks by the sword a quiet place under liberty.”
Supporters of the new flag design propose replacing the current flag and seal with a new design that better reflects the diverse residents of Massachusetts. They want the new flag and seal to represent the state’s values and history accurately and without promoting white supremacy.
The process for changing the state flag and seal in Massachusetts involves passing a resolution in the state legislature, followed by a statewide referendum. The Special Commission Relative to the Seal and Motto of the Commonwealth has recommended replacing the seal and flag, but the decision ultimately rests with the state legislature.
In addition to a new state flag design, Massachusetts residents are advocating for changes in school curriculums to focus more on Native American culture and history. They are also calling for the removal of Native American mascots in schools and other public spaces, which they believe perpetuate a racist culture.