Over the last 100 years, Black activists and nationalists have designed 13 flags to represent the racial abuse, inequality and social injustice the Black community has endured since the days of slavery.
The Pan-African flag which is decorated in the colors red, black and green is the first flag designed for Black Africans by Jamaican political activist Marcus Garvey in 1920. He crafted the flag in protest of a hit song “Every race has a flag but the coon” making a mockery of the Black community. He sought to correct the perception created about Black Americans.
The red in the flag signified the blood that must be shed to fight for the freedom of the Black race. The Black represented the nobility associated with the Black man. The green stands for the arable land on which the Black race is blessed.
The Black Panther Flag came about as a way of enabling Black voters who could not read and write to make an informed decision on the candidate to vote in the 1966 elections in Lowndes County. This was to counter a voting strategy employed by white supremacists to encourage high voter turnout among illiterate white voters. They got the courts to enable them to emboss a symbol of a rooster on the ballot to signal the direction of white voters. Founders of the Black Panther Party Huey and Bobby Seale hired the services of a student-artist to draw the panther symbol with a theme suggesting the party is there to serve the poor and vulnerable.
The third flag which is the Black American Heritage flag which was created in 1967 was inspired by Melvin Charles and Gleason Jackson’s desire to ensure the Black community receive right recognition. They felt that Black Americans had been under-represented in the American flag. The heritage flag has a gold blunted sword and fig wreath embedded in red and black colours. This flag embodies the pride, prosperity, the blood sacrificed and black pride of Black people.
The Juneteenth flag designed in 1977 was celebratory of Black freedom from slavery. Founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation, Ben Haith, chose the colors red, white and blue to represent this hope. The blue stands for the cleansing of the bloodshed for Black freedom associated with the red. The white five-pointed star inside of a 12-point star captures his aspirations for a new dawn.
The 13 Stripes flag was also designed to rally Black unity. Literature has it that, the 13 stripes stand for the 13th amendment which abolished slavery. The 13 stripes may not be popular but it was designed in 1989 in South Central L.A.
The Amsterdam museum in 1990 birthed David Hammons’ African-American Flag. The brain behind its creation was to improve the Marcus Garvey Pan-African flag. Hammons was of the view it looked Italian. The David Hammons’ flag became controversial because it proposed an American flag with black stars instead of white ones.
The Harvey African-American Flag, NuSouth Flag, African American Flag House Flag, African American Flag of Inclusion, Black American Flag, Foundational Black Flag, and the Foundational Black American flag have one underlying theme highlighting the black struggle and the need for emancipation.