History of the Pan-African Flag

Posted by John Taylor on

Pan African Flag, Red Black Green flag
    With the boom of social media and sharing of information, a lot of pictures are shared without people understanding the meaning behind certain symbols and colors. Infographics, or pictures with information on them, are the most popular because they break down complex topics in short, digestible ways. A majority of people are visual learners and would rather not read long paragraphs.

So we are going to discuss the origins of the Pan-African flag or as some may know it as the UNIA flag.

    Members of UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) came up with the idea of the Pan-African flag after the song “Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon” became popular around 1900. These types of songs were a genre of music that discriminated against people of color and stereotyped black culture.

As a response to the song, Marcus Garvey (the founder & president of UNIA) created the flag. The flag of Ethiopia was the inspiration behind it. Ethiopia was the only independent African nation besides Liberia during colonization. Garvey drew inspiration from other nations and their battle for liberation as well. For him, the red was for sympathy for the “Reds of the world, Green for the Irish and their battle for freedom, Black for all the black people”.

Here are the meanings behind the colors:

Red - The blood that unites all people of Black African ancestry; and shed for liberation

Black - For the people whose existence as a nation, through not a nation-state, is affirmed by the existence of the flag

Green - The abundant and vibrant natural wealth of Africa, the Motherland

    The flag later became a Black Nationalist symbol for the worldwide liberation of Black people. As an emblem of Black pride, the flag became popular during the Black Liberation movement of the 1960s. Today, the flag is widely available through flag shops or ethnic specialty stores. It is commonly seen at parades commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, civil rights rallies, and other special events.

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