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Good From Bad: Racist Song Inspired the Black Liberation Flag

The Coone Genre Song Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon Inspired the Red, Black, and Green Pan-African Flag designed by Marcus Garvey.

The Pan-African flag, also known as the Black Liberation flag, symbolizes solidarity and pride for people of African descent. The flag consists of three horizontal stripes of red, black, and green, representing the African people's blood, skin, and land. But did you know that the flag was inspired by a racist song?

The Coon song genre song Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon impacted black consciousness and activism as the Pan-African Flag emerged as a response.

The flag was designed by Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican-born activist, and leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), in 1920. Garvey wanted to create a flag that would unite all black people in the world and inspire them to fight for their freedom and dignity. 

He was influenced by a song called Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon, which was popular among white Americans then. The song mocked black people for not having a national identity or a flag of their own and implied that they were inferior to other races.

Garvey decided to turn the song's message on its head and use it as a motivation to create a flag representing the black race. He chose the colors red, black, and green based on the following explanation:

"Red is the color of the blood which men must shed for their redemption and liberty; black is the color of the noble and distinguished race to which we belong; green is the color of the luxuriant vegetation of our Motherland." - Marcus Garvey

The UNIA first adopted the flag in 1920 at its convention in New York City. It soon became a symbol of black nationalism and Pan-Africanism and was used by various movements and organizations throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The flag was also adopted by some African countries after they gained independence from colonial rule, such as Kenya, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.

Words to Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon and the its popularity in the US and UK.

Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon was a racist song that was popular in the United States and the United Kingdom in the early 1900s. It was written by Will A. Heelan and J. Fred Helf. Will A. Heelan and J. Fred Helf were American composers and lyricists who wrote many popular songs in the early 20th century. The song was influenced by the success of another racist song, All Coons Look Alike to Me, written by Ernest Hogan in 1896. The song was sung by many performers and became part of the culture of the time. 

The song Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon proclaimed black people had no identity, pride or culture, and that they were inferior to other races that had their own flags.

Song's Lyrics to the coon song genre Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon:

Every race has a flag but the coon

Bonny Scotland loves a thistle

Turkey has her crescent moon

And what won't Yankees do for the old red, white and blue

Every race has a flag but the coon


He can't get a flag because he's too lazy

He can't get a flag because he's too lazy

He can't get a flag because he's too lazy

Every race has a flag but the coon


The Irish green, the red of Spain

Are flags respected where'er they wave

And the French tri-color is seen on land and main

But where's the flag for the African brave?


The poor old coon has no flag of his own

He's left in this world all alone

He's got no banner to display

He's not recognized in any way


Every race has a flag but the coon

Bonny Scotland loves a thistle

Turkey has her crescent moon

And what won't Yankees do for the old red, white and blue

Every race has a flag but the coon


The coon song genre refers to a genre of music that was popular in the United States from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. Coon songs were characterized by their racist and derogatory depictions of African Americans, perpetuating stereotypes and caricatures.

The term coon was a racial slur used to demean and dehumanize African Americans during that time. Coon songs typically featured exaggerated dialects and portrayed African Americans as lazy, ignorant, and comically inept. They often used offensive lyrics and imagery to mock and ridicule African American culture and people. Coon songs were performed in vaudeville shows, minstrel shows, and by popular recording artists of the time.

The song was sung by many white performers in blackface, such as Lottie Gilson, Marie Dressler, Williams and Walker, Frances Curran, Hodges and Launchmere, and others. The song was also part of the hit parade of popular music in 1915 when The Birth of a Nation premiered. The Birth of a Nation 1915, which glorified the Ku Klux Klan and portrayed black people as violent and ignorant.

Positive change by rejecting stereotypes and embracing symbols that promote unity.

The song had a lasting impact on black consciousness and activism. The Pan-African flag is widely used today by people of African descent around the world. The flag is a reminder of black people's struggles and achievements and hopes, and aspirations for the future. The flag is also a testament to how a racist song can be transformed into a powerful symbol of resistance and empowerment.

"The Universal Negro Improvement Association colors shall be red, black, and green. Red representing the noble blood that unites all people of African ancestry, the color black for the people, green the abundant natural wealth of Africa." - Marcus Garvey, 1921.

The Pan-African Flag emerged as a response to the negative stereotypes spread by the Coon song genre. It brings people together, encourages them to feel proud of their African heritage, and helps them find a sense of belonging. Many social and political movements fighting for justice, equality, and recognizing the contributions of Africans to the world have embraced the Pan-African Flag.

It's important to acknowledge and address the harm caused by offensive cultural artifacts like the Coon song genre. However, we can create positive change by rejecting stereotypes and embracing symbols that promote unity, respect, and inclusivity. The Pan-African Flag is one such symbol that encourages us to challenge negative ideas and take pride in our cultures. By adopting empowering symbols like the Pan-African Flag, we can contribute to a more fair and equal society where everyone feels valued and connected.

Marcus Garvey's efforts in promoting black unity, self-empowerment, and cultural pride have left a lasting impact. His work laid the foundation for future civil rights movements and inspired leaders such as Black Lives Matter, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Garvey's emphasis on self-reliance, economic empowerment, and a united African identity under the Pan-African Flag continues to resonate with people advocating for social justice and equality today.

The Pan-African Flag serves as powerful symbols of identity, representing nations, communities, and social justice and equality causes. The Pan-African Flag evokes a sense of pride, belonging, and solidarity as it is a visual representation of shared values, heritage, and aspirations, fostering a sense of unity and rallying people around a common cause.

Did you know that variations and adaptations of the Pan-African Flag have emerged over time, and some versions may incorporate additional colors, including yellow. However, in the original design by Marcus Garvey, the Pan-African Flag does not include yellow. The flag's core symbolism is conveyed through the colors red, black, and green.

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