BOSTON (SHNS) – The governor of Massachusetts will officially recognize the 1740 adoption of the first Black voting system as Negro Election Day each year as required in one piece of legislation that Gov. Charlie Baker signed late last week.
Baker signed nine bills Friday including S 2703, which requires the governor to issue a ceremonial proclamation each year declaring the third Saturday in July as Negro Election Day, which has its roots in Salem. Sen. Joan Lovely said this year that enslaved people from Salem and across the region would hold an annual election to choose their own king or governor starting in 1740. That eventually became the Black Picnic still held each summer in Salem.
The Legislature sent Baker the bill on Thursday, July 14 – two days before the third Saturday of this month. He signed it just after noon on Friday, July 22. Maybe in an attempt to clear some room for the volley of paper that the Legislature could send his way in the next week, Baker signed eight other bills Friday.
One (H 3914) would rename the former Charlesbank Playground on Boston’s Esplanade the Gronk Playground “in recognition of the time and resources the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation has dedicated to inspiring youth to reach their maximum potential through sports, education, community and fitness.” The bill text does not directly mention New England Patriots three-time Super Bowl winner Rob Gronkowski, just his foundation.
Baker gave the final go-ahead to legislation (H 4197) allowing Swansea to lease up to 22 acres of land off Bark Street to build new town ball fields, to a bill (S 2990) that would allow Tisbury to hold its town meetings through 2024 outside its town limits if the Martha’s Vineyard community needs to go elsewhere to find a location where it can meet with public health measures in place, and to bills dealing with voting precincts in Middleton (H 4823) and Quincy (H 4875).
What Baker signed Friday largely represented the easy-lifting work his office faces. Still awaiting action is a bill banning discrimination based on natural and protective hairstyles (H 4554, due by July 28), the fiscal year 2023 budget (H 5050, due by July 29), and a significant offshore wind and climate policy bill (H 5060, due by July 31).
If lawmakers can agree to compromises before the month ends, they will send Baker even more legislation to review, including a major economic development package, a reproductive rights bill, veterans’ homes operations reforms, cannabis industry changes, legal sports betting, and more.