Massachusetts State Poem Appears to Endorse ‘Institutional Racism’
The special commission that was appointed through an act of the legislature and signed by then-Governor Charlie Baker to reevaluate the Massachusetts state seal and motto voted unanimously in May 2022 to replace both.
It has been more than a year since that vote, and the commission has yet to replace either.
Adam Reilly wrote for WGBH.com back in May of 2022 that "advocates had pushed to change the seal for decades without success" and that "the idea gained ground at the State House amid a nationwide reckoning with institutional racism."
Reilly described the seal as depicting a "Native American holding a bow and arrow and standing beneath an arm holding a sword – representing the colonial military leader Myles Standish – poised as if to strike. A motto in Latin unfurls around him, which is generally translated as: 'By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.'"
On September 24, 1981, the Massachusetts General Court designated "The Blue Hills of Massachusetts" by Katherine E. Mullen of Barre as the official state poem of the Commonwealth.
The eighth and ninth stanzas of the poem appear to glorify the official state seal and flag, described as "institutional racism" by Reilly and others.
"Massachusetts Seal and State Flag
Show the Chief in deerskin brown,
Proudly holding firm his strong-bow,
And one arrow pointing down.
'Coat of Arms of Massachusetts,
With our State Star just above,
Tribute to a noble Indian,
Loyal history that we love."
Thus far, there have been no calls to replace "The Blue Hills of Massachusetts" as the official state poem.
The 20-member Special Commission on the Official Seal and Motto of the Commonwealth includes at least five Baker appointees and Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, Chair of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).
Third Bristol and Plymouth State Senator Marc R. Pacheco (Dean of the Senate) of Taunton and 13th Bristol District Rep. Antonio Cabral of New Bedford also serve on the special commission.
Neither Andrews-Maltais, Pacheco, nor Cabral responded to requests for comment.
The Special Commission on the Official Seal and Motto of the Commonwealth has no additional meetings scheduled.