Northampton Friends Meeting (Quakers): Time to update state flag

  • In this Monday, May 2, 2016 file photo, the Massachusetts state flag flies in front of Boston City Hall.   AP Photo/Steven Senne

Published: 12/16/2020 12:24:38 PM

At this time when many of us are thinking about the treatment of Indigenous people in our country, we need to take a serious look at our Massachusetts state flag and seal. The images on our official flag and seal represent us to the people in our state, our nation and the world at large. Does the arm wielding the sword over an Indigenous man represent our values? Combined with the Latin motto on the bottom which means “by the sword we seek peace,” it is very warlike and symbolizes white/European power over Native people.

This image sends a message of subjugation of Native people to all children, especially Native children, as the flag is placed prominently on auditorium stages at public schools throughout the state. The flag and seal appear on official letters, on state police vehicles and in front of state office buildings. It is an insult to all Indigenous people and to all who want to live in peace with their neighbors. Do we want this message of historical domination of Native people to be displayed all over our state? Or is it time to update the flag?

Other states have changed their flags. It is appalling that Massachusetts is the only remaining state with explicitly racist imagery on its flag and seal. It is way past time to update these state symbols. This white supremacist image and message do not reflect the values of the people in this state or our Quaker values. The bill to review the flag and make recommendations was passed by the Senate in July. It is still waiting for a vote from the House. Please write your representatives or the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (, to urge the committee to bring House Bill 2776 to a vote before the end of this session at the end of the month.

Eleanor Warnock,

presiding clerk

Northampton Friends Meeting (Quakers)


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