By Bob Katzen
On July 22, Gov. Baker signed into law legislation establishing the third Saturday in July as Negro Election Day. The third Saturday in July this year was July 16 which had already passed by the time Baker signed the bill. So the day passed without it officially being Negro Election Day. The Legislature approved and sent the bill to the governor on July 14, just two days ahead of the 16th.
The holiday commemorates a historically important event that has taken place in the Bay State since the 18th century. It began when enslaved African-Americans would hold an election of a king or governor as an act of civic engagement and self-governance. The annual celebration began to take place on the 3rd Saturday of July during World War II when many African Americans were engaged in our nation’s critical war effort.
“This annual celebration demonstrates that our communities of color have always been engaged in our commonwealth’s civic process,” said sponsor Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem). “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.”