Massachusetts may have America’s most overtly racist, even genocidal, state flag. The offending image makes up the state seal and coat of arms and is further linked to the state motto, which translates, “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.”
|State Seal (left) and Coat of Arms.
|State Flag (left) and the author’s vision of a new flag.
|Ense Petit Placidam Sub Libertate Quietem
|All Hail to Massachusetts
Delving into the details is kind like reading a horror novel. The people who drew the Indian used body parts as a guide, and the sword belonged to Myles Standish, who was a pretty creepy character. Eek!
Fortunately, Massachusetts’ state song isn’t as blatantly offensive, though some may find it a rather typical boring state patriotic song.
The good news: People in Massachusetts are waking up and joining a growing national movement for upgrading state symbols. In early 2021, then-Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill to change the state flag and seal.
Unfortunately, legislators got off to a rather clumsy start. Would Massachusetts legislators follow in the footsteps of Maine and Massachusetts and take 150 years to make up their minds about moving forward? Or would Massachusetts become another Georgia or Mississippi, adopting a new flag even worse than the original? However, there appears to be some community interest in the new symbols campaign, and some dedicated individuals are breathing life into the campaign.
As of March 18, 2023, Utah was poised to become the first state cursed with a bad flag to adopt a respectable new flag since World War II. (Georgia and Mississippi both adopted new flags, but their efforts were a tragic failure.) Massachusetts’ new symbols campaign is significant partly because it could be the second state to get it right after Utah. In addition, Massachusetts may go beyond Utah in adopting a new suite of symbols.
I’ll have more to say about Massachusetts’ new flag campaign in my book Flag Quest and website FlagRevolt.com. Also, check out Change the Mass Flag and this video: “JEL – Changing the State Flag & Seal of Massachusetts” (March 13, 2023).
So, what do you think the Bay State’s new flag should look like? (My proposal features an iconic New England pine and the official state colors—blue, green, and cranberry.) What would make a good motto?