Editorial: The Color of Purple in Talbot County


It’s hard to think that those of us who live in Talbot County can ever go back to what the color purple meant to us after the last thirty days. Gone forever are the associations of that color with the Baltimore Ravens, ecumenical symbols, Purple Heart citations, or even an artist formerly known as Prince.

No, the color purple now stands out as strikingly different to thousands of us in the community because of the flawless launch of the “Talbot Goes Purple” awareness campaign, sponsored by the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office and Tidewater Rotary, which powerfully drew attention to the horrific opioid crisis on the Mid-Shore.

The selection of the color for such use is remarkable in itself. Purple is considered the most complex on the color spectrum. Before a dye was accidentally created in a chemistry lab a few hundred years ago, purple could only be produced by using rare sea snails, leaving it to be the exclusive property of the very rich or religious orders of the times.

Perhaps because of this rarity, purple has always been historically linked to royalty, magic, and mystery, but more recently it has been seen to represent spiritual awareness, physical and mental healing, strength and abundance.

The latter might explain why it was the perfect color to use in Talbot County last month. As one of Alice Waters characters said in her classic novel, The Color Purple, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”

And notice it, we did.

From bumper stickers to grids of purple lights glowing nightly in downtown Easton, the community could not avoid the color nor what it represented for local families overwhelmed by the most savage drug epidemic in our country’s history.

And yet even with this sad connotation, it is a feeling of hope that remains purple’s best quality. In can move us beyond hopelessness and remind the community of what ties us together. As demonstrated over the last month, it has become a sign of compassion and support to all those impacted by this cruel and evil force. As more and more residents of Easton replaced their traditional exterior lighting for purple bulbs throughout the last four weeks, there was a glowing sense of a county sharing something very much in common.


Letters to Editor

  1. Susan Gilbert says

    Is there a way of measuring the success of the purple light program? Raising consciousness of the problem certainly is commendable, but is more hoped for? Is this just the start of more comprehensive public awareness & outreach programs by the County. The lights were very pretty but the pervasive problem is not.

  2. Marie Verna says

    Like Kathy Meehan, a good friend who is well informed in behavioral health treatment, I want Talbot County to accept that Sheriff Gamble was aware many years ago that he had to find a way to get more resources in the county to deal with drug distribution, dealing and use.

    I’m an advocate from NJ, who follows national trends, and many wealthy countries have a hard time accepting that the disease of addiction does not discriminate, and being wealthy does not protect a community. In fact, it leaves those citizens at higher risk because citizens are afraid to accept that drug sales — at the middle- and high- school level — happen in their community every day. Medical examiners have only recently begun to document and report that “accidental deaths” are in fact drug overdoses.

    I am happy that the state of MD realized that it couldn’t leave the drug abuse public health issue to traditional law enforcement; several years ago, after the overdose of a wealthy citizen’s son, MD gave your sheriff the funds to address the issue head-on. I hope that Talbot County does more than put purple light bulbs in its lamps; the county needs to get educated about the symptoms of drug use, get trained in NARCAN use, encourage its kids to exercise the Good Samaritan Law and insist that its court system also get educated about the symptoms of synthetic drugs and the efficacy of treatment — over incarceration. The rest of the country is doing it. Talbot County should too. Talbot County doesn’t have to invent this public education curriculum. Many states have required the court system to get continuing education in the reality of drug abuse and the futility of a punitive response.

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