Embracing History to Bend the Moral Arc
Negro Election Day to Be State Holiday
On the third Saturday of July, the 17th of July, 2022 during the celebration of Negro Election Day at the Salem Willows, Doreen Wade introduced and thanked Senator Joan Lovely and Representative Paul Tucker. The legislators announced that both the Senate and the House had approved a bill to establish the third Saturday in July as a state holiday, and would become law with the signature of the Governor. Lovely and Tucker presented Wade with a duplicate of the proclamation that awaits Baker's signature.
Senator Lovely said,
“This annual celebration demonstrates that our communities of color have always been engaged in our Commonwealth’s civic process. We must continue to commemorate the meaningful milestones African Americans have contributed to Massachusetts and our nation today and in all the days going forward. I would like to thank Salem United, Inc. and it’s President Doreen Wade for their unwavering advocacy and support, Senate President Karen Spilka, my Senate colleagues and Representative Paul Tucker for pushing this legislation forward.”—Senator Joan B. Lovely
Representative Paul F. Tucker said,
“I am humbled to have been a part of such a historical moment for the city of Salem. Negro Election Day is not just a holiday, but a recognition of the African American community’s historical legacy, which is instructive and a great lesson for us all. I am appreciative to have learned of this history and for the leadership of Senator Lovely and Salem United Inc.”—Representative Paul F. Tucker
Wade, the President of Salem United, the organizer of the annual Negro Election Day, had worked closely with both Lovely and Tucker, who together led the efforts on Beacon Hill.
Doreen Wade, President of Salem United, Inc., said,
“I am honored and proud that Negro Election Day, which was once a holiday in 1741, has now returned to its holiday status in 2022. We could not have done this without the persistence and the loyalty of Senator Joan Lovely. And special thanks to state Representative Paul Tucker for the years of dedication and determination to Salem United. ”—Doreen Wade
Wade has established two new seemingly contradictory goals for Negro Election Day, in addition to the family picnics and the musical entertainment.
The first goal is to state the historical truth and confront the reality of slavery as an integral part of the American past. Although some of our political leaders condemn the resurgence of white nationalism and other forms of hatred and seek to dismiss it as “not who we are as Americans,” the history is clear: from the slave trade, to the Civil War, to the terrors of reconstruction and the KKK, to redlining and discrimination, and the dangers of walking or driving while black—some Americans assert that “others” are not fully human and not deserving of their rights.
Wade’s second goal confronts such hatred, past and present, and she creates an inclusive, welcoming environment for everyone.
I admire Doreen Wade for her energy and dedication, for her leadership ability bringing together people of diverse backgrounds, and for her success as an advocate and organizer. Politicians and the Salem Chief of Police come to be seen and to pay their respects to Wade. Wade honors the politicians who are eager to honor and work with her; and she equally recognizes the ordinary people who speak and act against prejudice.
In a shadow of slavery, Americans today can be callous and disrespectful towards people of color, people who speak other languages, immigrants, the homeless, the poor, and the disabled. The Stop Bullying Coalition has seen this at work in our homes and we have felt diminished by some landlords, who treat us as we imagine a serf was treated by a medieval lord. We have come to see that our problems are a microcosm of the society, and thus we appreciate and applaud the leadership of Doreen Wade.
With Doreen Wade, we must confront the defects of our history and the dangers of the present, and work for a unity of shared respect and cooperation with all people of goodwill.
Negro Election Day at the Salem Willows was a day of joy to connect with friends and partners and to learn by observing a revolution in the making led by Doreen Wade, another graduate of the Houghton School on Putnam Avenue in Cambridge.
When I attended that school in the late 1940s, it was one of the few integrated public schools in the country, where the important lessons were about getting along with others.
Negro Election Day is a graduate course in building an inclusive community.
As the president of Salem United I am proud to carry on the legacy of great men before me. To have this day as a state holiday allows me to fight for voting rights and true equity for all. —Doreen Wade
It was an honor and privilege for the Stop Bullying Coalition to march or ride in the opening parade in past years, and to have a table again this year where we could meet people, educate, advocate, and urge continued support for legislation to protect elderly and disabled tenants from bullying and mobbing.
I was joined by my partners in Breathe Clean North Shore, to educate about the health and climate dangers caused by pollution from burning fossil fuels. Environmental Justice (EJ) communities, identified by their challenges of color, language, and income, now have legal rights to fight against pollution.