Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Symbolic Salute To Black History

Flag to remember & honor black history now flies in front of Amherst Town Hall


About three dozen citizens -- including town officials, members of the Massachusetts 54th black infantry regiment and state representative Ellen Story -- braved the frigid weather to assemble under the vacant flagpole immediately in front of Town Hall for a flag raising to honor Black History month.



These days (and that term spans the past 50 years ) it's common to hear how Amherst would be nothing without the University of Massachusetts, our largest employer.

video
Crowd sings "Lift Every Voice And Sing"

But in a more historic sense Amherst would be nothing without the contributions of the hard working impoverished class who built this town with their bare hands, fought to preserve the Union, and continue the struggle to make Amherst a better place for all.

 Selectman Jim Wald reads the proclamation

In the past month the Amherst Select Board has issued proclamations to honor both Irish and Black history.

A nice salute indeed.


43 comments:

Dr. Ed said...

This is setting a very dangerous precedent because because of the US Supreme Court's principle of "content neutrality" in "public forums."

This flag is a political symbol and nothing else -- it may represent values that all decent people share, but that is irrelevant as it comes to the First Amendment....

If the Town permits this flag to be flown, it is required to permit all other similar flags to be flown -- it is required to let the NeoNazis fly a swastika for the same number of days -- on the same pole.

Anyone remember the problem with political speech and the banners over South Pleasant Street?


Richard S. Bogartz said...

The problem with Dr. Ed's analysis, and perhaps that of the Supreme Court as well, is that it is rare that a single principle is all that we have, or need, to guide us. So, content neutrality may be desirable. But exclusion of hate speech and its symbols is also desirable. The principle of content neutrality might indicate that swastikas be permitted to fly high; but hate speech may properly be excluded. And while it may be a problem in principle as to who will decide what not to allow, in practice that is what we have representative government for. Speech is free, but not to falsely shout "Fire!" in an auditorium. Why? Because it is a risk to the public to which freedom of speech has to take a back seat. Likewise, nazi flags and burning crosses.
I am trying this position on to see if it fits. Hitherto (love that word) I have thought that anyone should be able to say anything, and the right response was counter-speech and not prohibition. The conflict in my mind has always centered on ideas as possible infectious agents that perhaps should be banned from public spread the way measles should. Better ideas, to immunize us, would be good, but if not everyone is immunized should we encourage the infected to wander freely in the marketplace. This is not an easy matter and you need a taste for tension to toy with it.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what flag is that ? RM

Larry Kelley said...

Black Liberation Flag.

Anonymous said...

On the way to having a circle of flags on the common

Anonymous said...

http://www.loeser.us/flags/protest.html#blf

Also known as the UNIA flag. And note that a variant (see embedded link at end of article linked above) is the Black Panther Party flag. Now, there may be many in Amherst who are untroubled by flying the Black Panther Party flag, and many locals who would prefer to fly the BPP flag rather than the American flag. But it is still an insane idea.

Glad we are celebrating Black History Month. "Elect Angela Davis!"

Anonymous said...

Take it down and put the pirate flag back up.

Anonymous said...

Go ahead, Ed.

Cite the statute or case law that states that, because of today's ceremony, the town would now be required to fly a Nazi flag in front of Town Hall.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...


Perhaps he's trying to hang his argument on the USSC precedent set in NSPA v. Skokie?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Socialist_Party_of_America_v._Village_of_Skokie

Anonymous said...

"If the Town permits this flag to be flown, it is required to permit all other similar flags to be flown"

Wait for the law on this.......

Anonymous said...

+It is a discrace that we are flying the flag associated with the black panthers and all the killings,robbery's and riots also associated with them.
I for years worked tirelessly against this group to stop this carnage. Now a past selectperson and schoolteacher supports this behavior. Now I can see why this town and country is going down the drain.

Anonymous said...

What's the diff between History and Black History? Is there a White History month? Why not?

Dr. Ed said...

but hate speech may properly be excluded.

Outside of K-12, and the "Bong Hits for Jesus" case (Morse v. Frederick, 551 U.S. 393) involved student speech at a school-sponsored event, there has never been a ban on hate speech.

So-called "Fighting Words" can be banned -- Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 -- except that was in 1942 and Chaplinsky's "fighting words" were in calling the police chief "a God-damned Fascist." That was before the Warren Court and a whole lot more -- "Shepardiz" Chaplinsky sometime and you will see why I argue that it has essentially been repealed.

And that is IT. By contrast, there is _Johnson v. TX_ (flagburning) and _RAV v. St Paul_ (crossburning) and hate speech can NOT be banned...

And while it may be a problem in principle as to who will decide what not to allow, in practice that is what we have representative government for.

Never forget that Hitler won a democratic and basically honest election.

Speech is free, but not to falsely shout "Fire!" in an auditorium.

No, "crowded [movie] theater."

It's all digital now, but if you have any old photographic negaties, look at the edge and you will see "safety film." That means it won't explode if you drop it -- "safety film", made of polyester, was introduced in 1947.

Back in 1943, movie film was made of Nitrocellulose. Also known as "Gun Cotton", used as a military explosive and similar to the "smokeless powder" used in modern firearms (seriously), Nitrocellulose was not only highly flammable but quite unstable as well.

Run this through sprockets in front of a bright light -- in some cases a carbon arc -- and what could possibly go wrong?

Fire in movie theaters was a very real concern - so much so that codes required a separate projection booth. There were no sprinklers -- the rationale was to buy enough time for people to flee. To get out before the other rolls of film exploded into flame...

Why? Because it is a risk to the public to which freedom of speech has to take a back seat.

When it is the fire alarm.

It's why pulling a fire alarm today is considered a crime.

Likewise, nazi flags and burning crosses.

No. Not now, not ever.

Now as to ringing the church bell in the middle of the night -- back when that was the town fire alarm -- that would be something else...

I am trying this position on to see if it fits.

It doesn't. Read John Milton on truth being stronger than falsehood...

Dr. Ed said...

The thing to remember about Stokie is that -- at the time -- there were a lot of Holocaust survivors living in Stokie.

Even still.....

Anonymous said...

When is Brown History month? All my latino friends feel a little slighted.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, what was the controversial banner that put the end to banners being flown over South Pleasant St?

This was back in the '90s -- and memory involved either Easter and/or Abortion -- it wasn't "Happy Birthday Jesus" but along those lines -- and people freaked.

That's why I am saying that if the town is stupid enough to fly the Black Panther flag, it';s also gotta fly the Klan flag...

And the Pirate flag, and the Smiley-face flag, and every other flag that someone wants to fly up there.

Oh -- and for a SCOTUS decision, let's start with the Southworth one and work our way back on the cites...

Larry Kelley said...

I believe it was "He Has Risen" or something like that (for Easter).

Anonymous said...

No, Ed,

This was your statement.

You back it up.

Your attempts to practice law on this website are just so much pissing in the wind.

The notion is preposterous that a celebration in the town square of historical events that led to an opening to full citizenship for a group of people in this country SOMEHOW compels that town to fly other flags, including those of hate groups.

Until you can cite the law that would compel a court of law to order the Town of Amherst to do so, you, Ed, are full of bull.

Anonymous said...

Full citizenship? Is that what the Black Panthers stood for? I thought the 14th Amendment (1868) did that.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't a "He Is Risen" banner fall under the free expression clause of the First Amendment? Would it not be unconstitutional to ban it? (If that's what happened...)

Anonymous said...

If more blacks would raise themselves up and educate themselves and learn to work in society instead of against it we wouldn't have to raise flags to remind blacks that for the most part they've done little as a group to assimilate into the culture. Much easier to get the free EBT card and buy liquor and lottery tickets with it than make a difference in your life and your children's lives.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:23 pm

Black men fought and died in the Civil War. I see two gentlemen in Larry's photos wearing Union Army uniforms. The introduction of black men as a fighting force into the Civil War was a crucial element in the Union winning the war.

If you look up the flag that was flown, you see no mention of the Black Panthers.

You are entitled to your opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts.

The struggle of Irish-Americans, the struggle of African-Americans are part of the great drama of American history, something that should be celebrated in the center of town.

Are there readers of this blog who just too jaded, too cynical, too bitter, to appreciate that?

Anonymous said...

Black men did fight in Civil War. Unfortunately they never assimilated into the Western culture that was America and instead found it easier to get everything free and live of the system. The ones that broke free of that enslavement went on to be great men. The rest mostly live in inner cities with no hope and no dream. The Irish were the blacks of the era when they migrated here but mostly found that making something of yourself got you out of poverty, education got you a places, and staying in a family helped you teach these lessons to your children. Today most blacks have one parent and know little about the other. Today most black kids worship black rappers like Snoop Dogg who a role models write songs that go "I'm here to put this dick on you, I'm stuck on pussy and yours is right, wrip riding them poles and them doors is tight and I'mma get me a shot for the end of the night 'cause pussy is pussy and baby you're pussy for life." Blacks ought to be doing far more than raising black flags as reminders of how much they've failed themselves.

Anonymous said...

If you look up the flag flown... no mention of Black Panthers.


Although the Black Panthers were not noted for showing flags at their many rallies and demonstrations, the flag that is most associated with them was the Afro-American Flag. Another flag featured a springing black panther (the Party Logo) under the words "Free Huey" used at demonstrations against his imprisonment. There were variants of this flag with differing fonts and panther designs, including one with simply the words and no logo at all. A plain white flag with just the springing Black Panther logo centered on it was used at George Jackson's Funeral in Oakland (shot to death by prison guards in San Quentin Prison during an escape attempt) in 1971. Sometimes the Black Panthers put their emblem on flags of yellow or light blue. The yellow was the same as used on the Gadsen Flag, which in the Sixties and Seventies was used by radicals at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Tea Party. The light blue was the same as used on the VC flag.

The last variant shown at the left is an Afro-American Flag with the addition of a red star on the black strip that was reportability seen in Oakland, California, in 1989 at the funeral of Huey Newton. The flag´s original origins date back to the Black Liberation Flag of the 1920, minus the red star. It also saw use by the African People's Socialist Party (APSP), another Black Power party founded in 1972, as well as by the African Socialist International (ASI), which was founded by the APSP in 1982.

http://www.loeser.us/flags/hate.html#panthers

Anonymous said...

It ain't exactly Chopin...

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. I majored in White Studies, so this is all new to me.

Dr. Ed said...

The notion is preposterous that a celebration in the town square of historical events that led to an opening to full citizenship for a group of people in this country

Yes, and if they were flying the GAR flag, I'd agree that this might have something to do with your rant -- not that it is relevant.

That is the problem with you asinine leftists -- there is no objective legality (or morality), everything is relative.

I have no doubt you'd support the murder of innocent 3-year-olds if it furthered a cause you supported. I, by contrast, would say NO.

THE MORAL LEGITIMACY OF THE MESSAGE IS IRRELEVANT -- much as the Fourth & Fifth Amendments protect the guilty, the First Amendment protects the speech of those who are WRONG.

The fact you folks don't know this is downright scary...

Dr. Ed said...

Black men fought and died in the Civil War.

Yes -- on both sides. As did a surprising number of women, only identified as such upon death.

I see two gentlemen in Larry's photos wearing Union Army uniforms.

They would be offended by this -- they fought under the US Flag and considered themselves AMERICANS, fighting for the right to be considered that.

The introduction of black men as a fighting force into the Civil War was a crucial element in the Union winning the war.

No, it wasn't. By this point it had already become a war of attrition -- Grant's attitude being that it didn't matter how many men he lost because he could replace his while the South couldn't.

There weren't that many of them, either -- not as a percentage.

Now, like the Tuskegee Airmen of 80 years later, the Black soldiers were better soldiers -- better educated, more disciplined, and the rest - but no better or worse at stopping bullets than their White counterparts.

Remember that this was a war were one bullet would (and often did) kill multiple men.

Dr. Ed. said...

Facts matter -- IN MASSACHUSETTS (and I believe in Amherst), there were Black Men who voted to ratify the US Constitution --- or in the case of in Amherst, not to.

(The Town of Amherst voted against ratification.)

WEB DuBois openly stated that it was persons of races other than his who were being discriminated against in Massachusetts.

Anonymous said...

Once again, no law from Ed.

Anonymous said...

If our "Media & Climate Communications Specialist" wasn't electively mute...

(Not a peep since hired seven months ago)

Dr. Ed said...

Once again, no law from Ed.

Content neutrality of a public forum.

If you want the whole legal brief, MoFo, you gotta pay for it. $10,000 cash money in my hand and I'll write it for you.

Not holding my breath...

Anonymous said...

Those of you who think this is some kind of threat need to chill out. Seriously. And btw every month is white history month.

Anonymous said...

And btw every month is white history month.

Oh, really?!?

Face it folks, we are living in the 'Reign of Terror' of the 1960's -- except that, unlike in France, this one is not ending...

Anonymous said...

"The introduction of black men as a fighting force into the Civil War was a crucial element in the Union winning the war.

No, it wasn't. By this point it had already become a war of attrition --"

And let's not forget that many of these black soldiers started to fight, then dropped their weapons and walked away. One of the reasons the North won was they simply outnumbered the south in population, including some blacks that choose to fight. They were the first in the cross hairs so first to run. Liberals always want to make it look like blacks won the war. Laughable.

Anonymous said...

Media and Climate Specialist? Oh yeah, she gets a free paycheck and does her other work outside of the school system as she is doing right now working on a few projects that have nothing to do wiht Amherst. Nice to live off the system and do no work.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes a historical ceremony is just a historical ceremony, and not some "dangerous precedent" that opens up the center of town to hate groups. There is no statute or case law to support that claim, as has been demonstrated in the past two days.

I find it interesting that it had to be black folks celebrating the heroic past of our fellow Americans for this imaginary threat to be raised.

There is some interesting American history being written today. I recommend Isabel Wilkerson's "The Warmth of Other Suns", which weaves the personal stories of several individuals into a general history of the great black migration from the South into northern cities early in the 20th century. It's a terrific, inspiring read, in much the same way that the ceremony undoubtedly was inspiring the other day, that was witnessed by our tireless correspondent.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

The check is in the mail.

Anonymous said...

Really? I never see posters honoring any white people hanging ion the walls at either the HS or the MS. It's almost as though white heroes don't exist if you visit theses hallowed halls.

Dr. Ed said...

Speaking of law, the Town Meeting authorized the United Nations' Flag be flown on that pole -- and the flag currently being flown is neither the UN flag nor one even recognized by the UN.

Therefore, what legal right is there for that flag to be there?

Hint: Because racism is bad doesn't count -- you need a specific grant of authority to someone, from some duly authorized body (i.e. Town Meeting), to (a) not fly the UN flag and (b) instead fly the Black Panther flag. You need both as there is a preexisting obligation to be flying the UN flag.

So where is the grant of authority?

Larry Kelley said...

I believe the illustrious Select Board duly authorized that flag to fly.

Anonymous said...

Copy of the minutes?

I so want to send this to friends in Boston & DC...

Anonymous said...

There is so much 'hidden bias' here I find it amazing. Why don't people simply come out and say they're against anything--or anybody, who doesn't fit the 'white supreme ideology' of what 'America' should be and how 'Americans' should act--or which flag should be flown, or who should give permission to fly it... It'd make it a whole lot easier to enter this conversation. I mean 'freedom' really? By whose standards? And why would a flag instill fear--the Black Panthers started the free breakfast program in public schools--has anybody mentioned that here? And yes--maybe they were militant--but holy cow andy--the police are shooting and killing 'Americans' in our streets--Where is the attention to this? Talk about a waste of intellect and time. :(