It’s No Secret Why Black Folks Love This Flag

garvey flag as a crosswalk
Via flickr
Adé Hennis
July 8, 2024

It all started with a popular racist song that was heard across America in 1900, making fun of Black people because we were supposedly the only race that didn’t have a flag. But the song hit a wrong note with Marcus Garvey.

Adopted by the Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1920, the Garvey flag uses three broad horizontal bands: red, for the blood that unites all the people of African ancestry, and the blood that our ancestors shed for their liberation; black for the people of Africa and the diaspora; and green for the fertility of African land.

Many African countries gained their independence in the 1950s and 1960s, ushering in a new era in the fight against colonial oppression. These newly independent countries needed their own flags, and drew from the Garvey flag for their designs.

The 1960s were also years of renewed resistance among Black Americans, with the flag appearing at civil rights and Black power protests. Activists wore the colors of the flag as a symbol of Black liberation.

The red, black and green of the Garvey flag are on display at Black rallies and protests, in Black-owned businesses, in Black churches and even on some of our favorite clothes and accessories. Where else have you noticed it?