Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Red, Black and Green, Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon

Marcus Garvey's work through the Africa Times and Orient Review and his emphasis on the importance of a flag highlights his dedication to empowering people of African descent and instilling a sense of pride in their heritage.


Marcus Garvey, in response to the 1900 coon song, created the Pan-African flag in 1920.
The Pan-African flag or Black Liberation Flag is a tricolor flag consisting of three equal horizontal bands colored red, black, and green. 

The three colors on the Pan-African flag represent red for the blood that unites all people of Black African ancestry and shed for liberation, black for the people of Black African ancestry, and green for the abundant natural wealth of Africa.

One of Marcus Garvey's famous quotes is, "Show me the race or the nation without a flag, and I will show you a race of people without any pride." This statement underscores Garvey's belief that a flag symbolizes the pride and unity of a people. For him, a flag was not just a piece of cloth but a powerful symbol of identity, self-respect, and national or racial consciousness.

Jamaican political leader Marcus Garvey was a founding member and former president of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA) created the Pan-African flag in 1920 in response to the 1900 song "Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon." The song was written by Will A. Heelan, and J. Fred Helf was very popular in the United States and Britain. 

Marcus Garvey in response to the 1900 coon song created the Pan-African flag in 1920.

The Africa Times and Orient Review was a publication founded by Marcus Garvey in 1919. In a 1921 report appearing in the paper, Marcus Garvey stated the importance of the flag “Show me the race or the nation without a flag, and I will show you a race of people without any pride. Aye! In song and mimicry, they have said, "Every race has a flag but the coon." How true! Aye! But that was said of us years ago. They can't say it now!" The flag later became an African nationalist symbol for the worldwide liberation of people of African origin. The flag became popular during the Black Liberation Movement to symbolize Black pride.

The Africa Times and Orient Review served as a platform for Garvey to disseminate his ideas and messages to a wide audience. It focused on issues related to African and African diaspora communities, discussing topics such as racial equality, self-determination, and black empowerment. The publication played a significant role in spreading Garvey's vision of racial pride, self-reliance, and the importance of cultural identity.

Although other designs and colors, including yellow, are also considered to be International Pan-African flags, the horizontal stripes of red, black, and green originated from the UNIA in 1920. Flag names include the UNIA flag, Marcus Garvey flag, Black Liberation flag, Pan-African flag, and the Black or African Nationalist flag.

Garvey advocated for creating a flag for African people, as he saw it as a crucial step towards fostering a sense of pride and unity among individuals of African descent. He considered it essential for African nations and communities to have their own flags to assert their identity, culture, and aspirations.

The three colors on the Pan-African flag represent red for the blood that unites all people of Black African ancestry, and shed for liberation, black for the people of Black African ancestry and green for the abundant natural wealth of Africa.
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