A Case For The Red, Black And Green Flag On Marcus Garvey’s Birthday


Red, Black, Green.


Some Republicans and pro-Confederate flag bearing citizens claim that the Confederate flag represents their southern heritage and patriotism.

They proclaim this with great fervor and deny that it symbolizes White supremacy, racism, and treason– as pro-secessionists from the union. However, it only takes a few finger strokes and mouse clicks on the computer to discover the real meaning of the flag; from the very words of the creator of the flag, William T. Thompson.

If one reads the words of Mr. Thompson then one will not have to engage in endless discussions or heated debates about its true symbolism. Widely available on the internet is Mr. Thompson’s April 23, 1863 statements about the flag to Whites in editorials he wrote: “As a people we are fighting to maintain the heavenly ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause. Upon a red field would stand fourth our southern cross, Gemmed, preserving in beautiful contrast the red, white and blue. Such a flag would be a suitable emblem of our young confederacy, and sustained by the brave hearts and strong arms of the south, it would soon take rank among the proudest ensigns of the nations, and be hailed by the civilized world as The White Man’s Flag.”

After reading these words, I will never engage in a debate with anyone about the meaning of the Confederate flag.

African Americans who lived through the Jim Crow era of unbridled terrorism knew and experienced exactly what the Confederate flag meant whether or not they read the eloquent words of White supremacist and newspaper publisher Thompson. Dylan Storm Roof, the mass murderer of nine innocent African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, knew what it meant too.

While the Confederate flag should be taken down from all government buildings, arguing about it is a distraction. Some of our Black politicians would rather waste their time with this issue rather than boldly confront the real White supremacist policies and institutional systems that this flag symbolizes and are carried out under the American flag.

Those policies and systems are devastating the Black community in the United States every day. One has only to think about the recent comments made by Minister Louis Farrakhan to gatherers at a D.C. church meeting to reinforce this point. He said, “I don’t know what the hell the fight is about over the Confederate flag. We need to put the American flag down because we’ve caught as much hell under that as the Confederate flag …Who are we fighting today? It’s the people that carry the American flag. What flag do the police have? What flag flies over the non-Justice Department? What flag flies over the White House?”

It is under the American flag that the urban communities across the country are experiencing ethnic-cleansing under the name of “gentrification.” It is under the American flag that the Black community experiences mis-education, high unemployment rates, high incarceration rates, and police brutality.

It is under the American flag that the Black family is fractured as a recent New York Times article noted — that 1.5 million Black men are missing from daily life. Black women are being subtly supplanted in media and society by White women as more suitable and desirable companions for the remaining Black men that are present in daily life. Marriages between Black men and White women are increasing. For all these reasons and more, including the crimes against Black people since the founding of the United States, we can rightfully charge genocide as a people under both the American flag and the Confederate flag.

African Americans should give serious thought to flying their flag—one which represents their heritage, history, struggles, and liberation.

If we have forgotten all about our flag then we should get reacquainted with it. Our flag was created and formally adopted by the Universal Negro Association (UNIA) on August 13, 1920 under the leadership of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, whose birthday it is today. 

It has three beautiful colors and rich symbolic meaning too. RED represents the blood that African peoples have shed in the quest for liberation. BLACK represents the color of African peoples. GREEN represents the land and abundant natural wealth of Africa—an abundant wealth that everyone but Africans seem to enjoy.

This flag represents the continental and global solidarity of African peoples everywhere—not subjugation and genocide. For all these reasons and more, African Americans should raise and proudly fly our own flag every day.

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