Vote for Diversity

Vote for Diversity

© David Burton 2012

Elizabeth Warren Pocahantas

     Massachusetts has the opportunity to strike a blow for diversity and equality in the upcoming election for the junior U. S. senate seat. Running for U.S. senator on the Democratic ticket is Elizabeth Warren, who has claimed to be an American Indian, which, in today’s politically correct language, becomes Native American. Research does indeed appear to substantiate her claim to Native-Americanhood.

     Massachusetts voters have always been in the forefront of fostering diversity and fighting for the minority rights. Massachusetts sent John F. Kennedy to the U.S. Senate from where he went on to become the first Irish- Catholic president of the United States; for years, Massachusetts elected Barney Frank, a gay, left-handed, Jew, to the U.S. House of Representatives, and, Massachusetts has twice elected Deval Patrick, an Afro-American, to be governor of the state. We even elected former governor and congressman, James Michael Curley, to be mayor of Boston while he was a prison inmate.

     “Warren, who is running against Sen. Scott Brown, has been taking heavy political flak since it was revealed she claimed to be a minority based on family lore about ancestors from the Cherokee and Delaware tribes. . . .
     “And although Warren claims she never used her purported heritage when applying for jobs, she did list herself as a minority in The American Association of Law Schools directory, which administrators have used to seek diversity job candidates.” (Ref. 1)

     “The Boston Globe reported that the Democratic candidate challenger to Scott Brown in the Senate race in Massachusetts self-identified as a minority from 1986 to 1995, though she has no recent Native American family.
     “Genealogist at the New England Historic Genealogical Society Chris Child set out to hunt down Warren’s ancestry last Thursday. In less than a week, he discovered documents citing an 1894 marriage record that lists Warren’s great-great-great grandmother, O. C. Sarah Smith as Cherokee, meaning that Warren is 1/32nd Native American. . . .
     “The story kicked off Friday when the Boston Herald reported on an article that ran in the Harvard Crimson in 1996 about students’ concerns regarding a lack of diversity among the school’s faculty. In the story, Warren, who serves as the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard’s Law School, was cited as Native American. Warren’s identification as Native American pre-dates her time at Harvard.
     “Law School directories from the Association of American Law Schools from 1986-1995 list Warren as a minority law professor. During this time Warren taught at the University of Texas School of Law and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.” (Ref. 2)

     Warren identifies herself as a member of the bottom 99 percent in American society, which should also be justification for being elected to the U.S. Senate. She may have “embraced the Occupy Wall Street movement and the ‘99 percent’ crowd, but public records reveal the liberal firebrand belongs to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. . . .
     “Warren earned nearly $535,000 in 2009, including $310,000 for teaching law at Harvard University, according to financial disclosure reports she had to file as a political appointee of President Barack Obama.
     “She took home $507,000 in 2010. Neither of those figures included the salary of her husband, fellow Harvard law professor Bruce Mann, or the $192,722 Warren earned between 2009 and 2010 for chairing the congressional panel tasked with overseeing the bank bailouts. The totals also did not include the roughly $138,000 she earned between September 2010 and July 2011 while launching the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to separate salary records obtained by POLITICO.
     “The Cambridge couple reported at least $4.6 million in financial investments and property. . . .
     “Though she’s no billionaire, Warren’s earnings put her among the highest income earners in the country. In 2009, those who made at least $343,927 a year fell within the top 1 percent of income earners, according to the Internal Revenue Service.” (Ref. 3)

     While it’s true that “Elizabeth Warren is under fire for reports she claimed status as a minority lawyer based on a far-back blood connection to the Cherokee line,” (Ref. 2) we here in Massachusetts should accept Warren’s claim to Native-Americanhood and should vote for her in this coming November election to prove to the rest of the country that we Bay-Staters embrace diversity, particularly as it applies to female Native-Americans. After all, the name Massachusetts comes from the language of the Algonquian Indians of the Massachusetts Bay area - translated roughly as: at or about the great hill.

     Massachusetts’ relations with Native American Indians began peacefully enough and the Indians around Plymouth are credited with helping the early settlers to survive. “After arriving in Plymouth in 1620, the Pilgrims had endured hardships but had managed to survive, in a large part due to the help of Squanto, an Indian who taught the Pilgrims how to fish, grow corn, and farm the land. At the end of their first year, the Puritans held a ‘harvest feast’ celebrating the fruits of their farming efforts. The feast honored Squanto and their friends, the Wampanoag Indians. The feast was followed by three days of ‘thanksgiving’ celebrating their good fortune.” (Ref. 4)

     Massachusetts was an early leader in the fight to abolish slavery and grant equal rights to blacks, a forerunner of the push for minority rights and the current emphasis on diversity. “The Massachusetts Legislature in 1777 tabled a proposal for gradual emancipation. The 1778 draft constitution legally recognized slavery and banned free blacks from voting. It was rejected at the polls, for other reasons. The more liberal state constitution approved two years later contained a bill of rights that declared ‘all men are born free and equal, and have ... the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberty.’ [Emphasis mine]
     “This provided the basis for abolishing slavery in Massachusetts, but it clearly was not the intent of the Legislature to do so. Popular sentiment and the courts were pro-abolition, however. And it was a 1783 judicial decision, interpreting the wording of the 1780 constitution, that brought slavery to an end in Massachusetts.” (Ref. 5)

     Massachusetts was a hotbed of abolition sentiment in the decades leading to the Civil War. White Bay-Staters became vocal in their opposition to the institution of slavery. As the abolition movement in Massachusetts grew, it was largely pushed by whites. One of the famous men of the abolition movement was Wendell Phillips, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He was considered one of the most radical of all the abolitionists. He also supported causes like the women's rights and humane treatment of the mentally ill. He sought social justice for blacks after the Civil War.

     “What began as an elite abolitionist movement in Pennsylvania during the post-Revolutionary period yielded to an egalitarian movement based in Massachusetts during the early 1830s." The Massachusetts Antislavery Society was formed in the early 1830s and was where black and white activists formed crucial ties. It can be readily argued that the cradle of abolition was Massachusetts. William Lloyd Garrison was another Massachusetts abolitionist. Massachusetts abolitionists exploited these political and cultural developments to revolutionize the movement to end slavery in America. (Ref. 6)

     In addition to its initial harmonious relations with American Indians and its anti-slavery efforts on behalf of America’s Negro slave population, Massachusetts also had its share of fighters in the early battles to grant suffrage to women. The following information comes from Women's Suffrage in Massachusetts. (Ref. 7)

     The 1780 Massachusetts State Constitution omited the word "male" as a qualification for elective office. In 1850, the National Women's Rights Convention was held at in Worcester, Massachusetts, with men and women from across the country in attendance. In 1866, the first meeting of the American Equal Rights Association (later to become the National Women’s Suffrage Association) was held in Boston. A joint special committee on Woman Suffrage was formed in 1869 by the Massachusetts State Legislature. In 1870, the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association was formed at a meeting at Horticultural Hall in Boston. In 1871, William Clafin became the first governor of Massachusetts to speak directly on the subject of women's rights. Clafin recommended a change in the laws regarding suffrage and property rights of women. In, 1892, the poll tax for women in Massachusetts was abolished. Women in Massachusetts finally gained full voting rights in 1920, with the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

     So now, we come to the year 2012. Once again, we here in Massachusetts are presented with the opportunity to march to the aid of an oppressed minority. We can show that diversity is alive and well in our state by voting for that illustrious representative of our Native American population. It matters not that Elizabeth Warren is, at best, 1/32 Native American. It matters not that Elizabeth Warren bears no resemblance to Pocahantas. It matters not that she is blond and blue-eyed, rather than raven haired and dark-eyed. After all, a coal-black wig with long braids and a set of brown contact lenses can change her appearance into that of a typical Indian maiden. By voting for Elizabeth Warren, we can show the rest of the nation and the world that we here in Massachusetts stand for the downtrodden. We can vote for a woman; we can vote for a Native-American; and most important, we can vote for one of us -- the 99% at the bottom of the economic ladder. It’s irrelevant that Elizabeth Warren and her husband earned nearly a million dollars in each of the past few years ($0.62 million in 2011, $0.95 million in 2010, $0.98 million in 2009, and $0.83 million in 2008) or that she lives in an expensive house in the exclusive section of Cambridge near elitist Harvard University. “Warren said her home near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., is worth between $1 million and $5 million.” (Ref. 8) As she has stated in her election campaign, she comes from poor roots which, along with her 1/32 Native-American heritage, qualifies her to be a member of the 99% minority in America.



  1. Elizabeth Warren claims Native American roots, skips Harvard Powwow, Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa with Megan Johnson, Boston Herald, 8 May 2012.
  2. Elizabeth Warren’s Cherokee Heritage Raises Questions, Sarah Parnass, ABC News; The Note, 1 May 2012.
  3. Elizabeth Warren: A well-off voice for the poor, Scott Wong, Politico, 6 November 2011.
  4. Emancipation in Massachusetts, Slavery in the North;, Accessed 9 May 2012.
  5. Pilgrims and Indians and the First Thanksgiving, Caffeine Destiny;, Accessed 9 May 2012.
  6. The Transformation of American Abolitionism: Fighting Slavery in the Early Republic, Richard S. Newman,The University of North Carolina Press, 2002.
  7. Women's Suffrage in Massachusetts, Kevin McGrath,, 14 November 2009.
  8. Elizabeth Warren's Rent; Boston Youngest U.S. City; And More!, Tom Acitelli, Curbedwire, 13 January 2012.

  11 May 2012 {Article 123; Politics_20}    
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