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Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1999 22:59:48 -0400
Message-Id: <199908180259.WAA12353@lists.tao.ca>
From: Art McGee <amcgee@igc.org>
Subject: [BRC-NEWS] The Red, Black and Green
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Fly The Red, Black And Green On Garvey's Birthday

By Ron Daniels, The Black World Today, 25 July 1999

In New York City you can always tell when the time for the Puerto Rican Day Parade is at hand. Leading up to the Parade red, white and blue flags with a single star begin to appear all across the city, particularly in those neighborhoods with heavy Puerto Rican populations. And on the day of the Parade the Puerto Rican Flags are in evidence everywhere, on cars, flagpoles, in the windows and on the porches of people's homes and adults and children carry banners or little flags to the Parade. At least once a year, the whole city is aware of Puerto Rican Pride!

For the past several years, I have been promoting the idea, with the support of Dr. Julius Garvey and Marcus Garvey Jr., the sons of the Honorable Marcus Garvey, that as an act of self-determination, African people in this country and the world should declare Garvey's birthday Universal African Flag Day. August 17 of this year will mark the 112" birthday of Marcus Garvey, one of the most visionary, courageous and audacious African leaders the race has ever produced. A devoted Pan-African Nationalist, dedicated to breathing life into and reconnecting the disjointed, disoriented, dry bones of a great people beaten down and disconnected by the holocaust of enslavement, colonialism and rampant racial oppression, Garvey built the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) to carry out his vision of African redemption.

Garvey's vision was at once simple and ambitious - Africa, the ancestral homeland of the Black race and the progenitor and cradle of human life and civilization, should be reclaimed, resurrected and reconstructed by the African peoples of the world as the anchor and base for global Black power. He proclaimed, " Europe for the Europeans, Asia for the Asians, Africa for the Africans at home and abroad." Keenly aware of the need to uplift the spirits of a battered and downtrodden people, Garvey's prescription for African revival was a heavy dose of history and culture to inspire Black people to engage the struggle for freedom and self-determination. He was a spellbinding orator whose lively litanies on the great achievements of African people throughout history were a source of new hope for millions of Africans in this country and the world. "Up you mighty race," he would often say, "you can accomplish what you will."

Symbols were also an important part of Garvey's formula for the psycho-cultural rehabilitation of African people, and for him there was no more important symbol than a flag. The function of a flag, as Garvey saw it, was to capture the essence of the history and culture of, people and serve as a unifying symbol of their aspirations. Garvey was determined that African people would have a flag with such a purpose and meaning. One of his greatest gifts and most enduring legacies to African people is sometimes referred to as the "Black Liberation Flag," the Red, Black and Green. In general terms Garvey saw the Red as a symbol of the blood, suffering and sacrifice of African people historically, the Black for the people, African people, with all of our historical triumphs and achievements and Green for our African homeland which must be reclaimed to give life and nourishment to African people on the continent and in the diaspora. What a magnificent gift to African people.

Unfortunately, far too many African people in this country and the world have little or no knowledge about the Flag or its innovator, the Honorable Mucus Garvey. This is a condition that urgently needs to be corrected. As Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History Month might put it, there is no greater impediment to Black progress than the mis-education or lack of education of African people about ourselves. Dr. Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kwanzaa has repeatedly warned that the "key crisis in Black life is the cultural crisis." If African people are to fulfill Garvey's vision of African redemption, it is imperative that we cultivate a greater consciousness and appreciation for our history and culture, heroes and heroines and the challenges we face in rescuing and restoring the race into the 21st century.

I can think of no more worthy initiative than to work to have African people the world over recognize the birthday of Marcus Garvey as Universal African Flag Day. Garvey never intended for the Flag to be for African Americans alone. The UNIA had chapters throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America, Canada and Europe. Wherever there was a UNIA chapter the Red. Black and Green was always proudly and appropriately displayed. The Flag should become a symbol of the aspiration of African people for unity, self-determination and development. I dream of the day when the Red, Black and Green will be on proud display by countless millions of African people in this country and the world on the birthday of Marcus Garvey, one of our greatest ancestors. In honoring him, we really honor his legacy and all that he stood for in terms of the resurrection of our people. Wherever you are, I urge you to take up the cause of making August 17, the birthday of Marcus Garvey, Universal African Flag Day!

Copyright (c) 1999 The Black World Today

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