Red, Black, And Green: The Symbolism Of The Pan-African Flag

Jan 23, 2019

The Pan-African flag has appeared at the center of some of the most painful moments in American history.  

In 2014, an unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, protesters waved the Pan-African flag as they marched through the streets.


The Pan African flag was born out of the racism of the 1920s. The flag's creation was inspired by a racist minstrel show song from 1900 called "Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon."

Marcus Garvey, who was the leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, would go on to create the flag as a symbol for black people around the world.

Marcus Garvey Square in New Orleans
Credit Mark Gstohl

Akinyele Umoja, who chairs the department of African American Studies at Georgia State University, spoke with GPB's Leah Fleming as part of our series on the power of a flag in the American experience.  

Leah Fleming (left) and GSU professor Akinyele Umoja (right) pose at the GPB-Atlanta studio.