Jun 13, 2022 - News

Special commission to gather public input on new state flag

A mockup of what a new Massachusetts state flag could look like.
A mockup of what the new Massachusetts state flag could look like by Reddit user Thiago de Morais aka simplisticflags. Illustration courtesy of Thiago de Morais

A special commission tasked with drawing a new state flag and official seal plans to open up the brainstorming process to the public soon, the panel's co-chair tells Axios.

Why it matters: This is a once-in-a-quarter-millenium opportunity. You may not notice it, but the state seal is everywhere — on the flag that flies under the stars and stripes on most official flagpoles, on many state documents and even on your driver's license.

Context: After decades of effort from Indigenous tribes and other activists, a 20-person commission selected by the legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker decided last month to do away with the 247-year-old seal, which depicts a sword hovering over a Native American, as well as the Latin motto which roughly translates to "By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty."

  • The group will eventually issue a report recommending a new seal for lawmakers to vote on and make official.

What's next: While the public will get to weigh in, the commission hasn't decided how and when that will happen, says co-chair Brian Boyles. It first needs to request an extension from lawmakers to continue its work before new ideas can be solicited.

What they're saying: "I think the public input side of things is going to really dictate how far we go in the recommendations that we make," says Boyles, the executive director of education nonprofit Mass Humanities.

  • Commission member Micah Whitson, a graphic designer and Belmont resident who helped create the Mississippi state flag last year when that state decided to get rid of its Confederate symbolism, tells Axios the new Mass. flag will likely be a separate design from the new seal.

What's happening: Vexillology fans on Reddit have already started creating mockups of what a new seal and flag could look like, incorporating symbols Whitson says the commission is open to, like pine trees, mayflowers and the official state colors of blue, green and cranberry.

Quick take: We want to know what you think should be on the new flag. Hit us up on Twitter, @Deehan and @stephmsolis, with your suggestions. We're backing this one, obviously.


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