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Northampton backs resolution to change state seal, motto

  • The state seal of Massachusetts. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Staff Writer
Published: 2/22/2019 11:43:22 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The City Council unanimously passed a resolution on first reading Thursday backing the effort to change Massachusetts’ state seal and flag.

“Its time has come,” said At-Large City Councilor William Dwight, one of the resolution’s sponsors.

The seal of Massachusetts contains a Native American on it with an arm holding a sword above it. It also contains the state’s motto in Latin: By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty. The seal is also on the Massachusetts flag.

Dwight said that the flag doesn’t reflect the state’s values and that on reflection and study it says something horrific.

“An overt declaration of supremacy,” is how Dwight characterized it.

“I feel myself that that flag is racist,” said Ward 6 City Councilor Marianna LaBarge.

The resolution notes the history of racism against Native Americans in Massachusetts and urges support for the bill in the state House of Representatives and the bill in the state Senate that seek to change the state’s seal and motto. State Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, is a co-sponsor of the Senate bill while Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, is its lead sponsor in the house.

“I don’t think a racist conqueror should ever get to gloat or depict the people that they’ve conquered or destroyed,” said Ward 7 Councilor Alisa Klein, one of the councilors who introduced the resolution.

She also urged people to push back against white supremacy, which she said is on the rise in this country, noting a recent study by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Hadley will be voting on supporting changing the state seal and motto at its next town meeting, and the Pioneer Valley communities of Gill, New Salem, Orange and Wendell backed changing the seal at town meetings last spring.

Dwight did acknowledge that not everyone would be happy with the council’s move.

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