This article tells the journey of three men: their discovery of “The Shero of Our Story,” the lack of a marker on her grave, and the founding of the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation to rectify that historical oversight.
SHINE ON, ETERNAL LIGHT
Tune — “Hamiltonia”
words and Music by ARNOLD J. FORD
Shine on, Eternal Light
To greet our souls this day;
Dispel the gloominess of night
And drive our doubts away.
Our longing eyes prepare
When war and strife shall cease,
To view the morn soon to appear;
The “New Era” of Peace.
Thy Temple O our God,
No kingdom can remove,
Made without hands, this blest abode,
The Harbinger of Love.
Of all the gifts that flow
From Thy great throne above,
We ask Thee on our hearts bestow
The gift of “Perfect Love.”
My soul the Light receives
And dares the Truth to prove,
Not in blind ignorance believes,
But knows that God is love.
Come Love, and give new birth
To man’s destructive mind.
Spread where confusion reigns on earth
Good-will to all mankind.
Shine on, Eternal Light,
Thy penetrating ray
Shall turn the hour of darkest night
Into Eternal Day.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 20, 2013 is HENRIETTA VINTON DAVIS GRAVE MARKER UNVEILING
-Events to recognize cultural icon-
Washington, DC –Today the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation (HVDMF) announced plans to unveil a marker at the grave of its namesake in National Harmony Memorial Park. The Foundation has as its mission to raise awareness of the life and legacy of Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader and activist Henrietta Vinton Davis.
Miss Davis remained relatively unrecognized until July 1983 when an article entitled “Henrietta Vinton Davis and the Garvey Movement” by Professor William Seraile was published in the journal ‘Afro-Americans in New York Life and History’. Nearly a year later, acknowledgment of her contributions increased with the publication of the book ‘Shakespeare in Sable’ written by Professor Errol Hill of Dartmouth University. Her home in Northeast Washington, DC has been listed on Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail since 1999.
On Saturday July 20, 2013 the HVDMF starts the day off with an award presentation and celebration at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, culminating with the unveiling of a marker at Miss Davis’ grave site at National Harmony Memorial Park. Guest speakers and celebrants include:
Dr. William Seraile (Bruce Grit), Barbara Eklof (For Every Season), Kevin Grace (Friends of Joe Gans), Nnamdi Azikiwe (Vinton Davis Weblog) and Mwariama Kamau (UNIA). Producing partners for the occasion are Vaunita Goodman (MTPC) and Michon Boston (Iola’s Letter). Clayton LeBouef (Something The Lord Made, The Wire, Homicide) will serve as Master of Ceremonies.
In 2008, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty issued a proclamation designating August 25 ‘Henrietta Vinton Davis Day.’ The decree acknowledged Davis as the first African American to work at the DC Recorder of Deeds office beginning in 1878, before Frederick Douglass was appointed Recorder. She made her career debut as a Shakespearean actor, elocutionist and dramatic reader in Washington, DC on April 25, 1883 where she was introduced by Douglass, a family friend. The proclamation acknowledges the success of Miss Davis as a public speaker and cultural icon.
Celebration / Award Presentation recognizing Vera J. Katz, (Professor Emerita Howard University Theatre Arts) and others will be conducted in the A-5 Auditorium 11am-1:30-pm at the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Library 901 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 727-0321
Livication / Henrietta Vinton Davis Marker Unveiling will be conducted 3pm-5pm at her grave site in National Harmony Memorial Park 7101 Sheriff Road Largo, MD (301) 772-0900
Events are free and open to the public.
About Henrietta Vinton Davis
For thirty-five years after her debut performing “Shakespearean delineations”, original plays and dramatic readings with her own performing company, and local troupes throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean, Henrietta Vinton Davis broke new ground as a successful theatrical artisan. Her commitment to her craft gained her recognition as the first African American “woman of the stage.”
During 1919, a year notable for its “Red Summer,” she joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League headed by Marcus Garvey.
As a leader of the African Redemption Movement, Davis made use of her acting skills to promote the aims and objectives of the UNIA. Her ability to “transport her listeners” to another place with her oratorical skills played a key role in both attracting members to the organization and promoting the Black Star Line Shipping Company. As such, she was elected to numerous positions including International Organizer, and Third Assistant President General of the UNIA. Additionally, as Vice President and a Director of the Black Star Line, Davis was the de facto authority aboard the Black Star Line’s flagship vessel, the S.S. Yarmouth, on its maiden voyage. The ship was laden with a cargo worth upwards of $5.000.000 destined for the Caribbean. On the ship’s return Marcus Garvey proclaimed Miss Davis “the greatest woman of the [African] race today” in a meeting at the UNIA’s Liberty Hall.
About The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation
Initially organized to raise funds for a marker at the grave of Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis
in 2005, the mission of The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation has evolved to include publishing books, producing plays, films/videos and conducting symposiums educating the general public about her life and the times in which she lived.
Address by Marcus Garvey at the Palace Casino
[Negro World, 21 June 1919]
Over three thousand persons, members and friends of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, assembled at the Palace Casino, 135th street and Madison Avenue, New York City, Sunday evening, June 15, to greet Mr. Marcus Garvey, president-general and International Organizer of the association, who has just returned to the city after an extended lecture in Michigan, Virginia and Canada.
Mr. Edgar M. Grey, general secretary of the association, called the meeting to order a few minutes after nine o’clock, by the singing of the opening hymn, “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains.” After a few brief remarks by the chairman, a musical program consisting of one violin solo by Master William Wilkinson, and a piano solo by Miss Irene Callender was rendered. Mr. George Tobias, treasurer of the association, was next presented to the
audience and surprised his hearers and friends by revealing unsuspected talent as a reader, when he gave an impressive rendition of Wendell Phillips’ great oration on Toussaint L’Ouverture.
The next speaker introduced was Miss Henrietta Vinton Davis, the popular and talented elocutionist ofWashington, D.C., who, as a tribute to the children who had so splendidly entertained for the evening, recited a poem entitled “Little Brown Baby with Sparkling Eyes,” written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, poet laureate of the Negro Race.
In order to make the recitation as realistic as possible, Miss Davis used for the occasion a large colored doll manufactured by Berry & Ross, who had very kindly loaned it for the occasion. At the end of the recitation Miss Davis made a stirring appeal for support for the factory that was doing so much to inculcate a spirit of race pride in the Negro race.
Following this the chairman asked for a silver collection, which was heartily and liberally responded to. Taking as his theme, the subject of race pride, the chairman then made a few short and cryptic remarks in which he pointed out that the principal concern of the race was not so much in finding out how to die but in learning how to live.
At the close of his address the chairman then introduced as the next speaker the person whose commanding personality was responsible for the vast assemblage that evening, Mr. Marcus Garvey. Mr. Garvey began his address by thanking all those who had supported the officers of the association, while he was absent touring the West, Canada and the South. He then told how efforts were being made by enemies of the association to discredit both himself and the organization. He specifically named Mr. William Bridges, editor of the “Challenge Magazine,” and a well known stepladder orator on Lenox avenue, as having assailed him in many ways while he was away. On his return to the city he had taken up the gauntlet and challenged the editor of the “Challenge” to meet him in open debate, which Mr. Bridges at first declined, but under pressure of public opinion was compelled to accept. Mr. Garvey then outlined the debate which had taken place the night before at the corner of 138th street and Lenox avenue, and which he assured his audience resulted in the complete and inglorious defeat of his opponent. The speaker also told of the plots engineered against himself and the organization by a cabal of envious and malicious individuals, who being incapable of thinking internationally, were doing everything of an underhand nature to wreck the organization; but inasmuch as the organization had firmly established itself in a majority of the States of the Union, the islands of West Indies, several republics of South and Central America and on the west coast of Africa, it was next to impossible for any group of men or any government to entirely destroy it. He was there that evening, he said, for the purpose of defending himself and the organization, and to give a detailed explanation of the feasibility of the Black Star Line project.
He then roused his audience to the highest pitch of enthusiasm when he recited to them the prowess of the Black race and how it was possible for the scattered millions of Negroes all over the world to accomplish the liberation of Africa by supporting the plans of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. Dramatically striking his chest, Mr. Garvey convincingly assured his hearers that all cowardice had departed from his anatomy, “for,” he said, “if I could have died on the field of Flanders of France in the white man’s cause, I can die in America fighting for myself and my race.” At this a storm of applause rent the building. Men and women rose to their feet and handkerchiefs were waved over head as every individual vied with his neighbor to show that the orator had transmitted the spirit of courage from himself to the entire audience.
After scathingly condemning those who were opposing the organization as “white men’s niggers” and cowards, the speaker told of the great work that was being done by the Newport News branch, which had pledged itself to subscribe $100,000 for the purpose of making the Black Star Line a reality. At the close of his address, which lasted for over an hour and generously applauded throughout, Mr. Garvey made an eloquent and impressive appeal for funds to help the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities’ League in the prosecution of its many plans for the liberation of the Negroes of the world and the founding of a Negro nation on the continent of Africa. The audience showed their sincere appreciation of the evening’s exercises by subscribing most liberally.
Marcus Garvey is the source for Bob Marley’s well known phrase in “Redmption Song:”
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds.
That famous lyric originated with Marcus Garvey. In his 1937 speech “The Work That Has Been Done” given at Menelik Hall in Nova Scotia Garvey states:
We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.
The mental emancipation Garvey spoke about has yet to become significantly widespread among the human race. One indication humanity has yet to achieve mental emancipation is the fact criminal charges are still on the records of the United States Federal Government. Does such fact Garvey’s of universal emancipation warrant his exoneration? With such a powerful statement having influence on people worldwide to the extent they seek further knowledge as to source of Bob Marley’s lyrics it would seem the answer is in the affirmative.
The only evidence used to convict Marcus Garvey was actually an absence of evidence. At trial a single empty envelope was presented. Allegedly the envelope once contained a flyer which suggested the Black Star Line owned a ship named for Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American to have published poetry. Garvey was out of the USA at the time and therefore could not have created such a flyer if one actually existed.
More information on the Garvey Case can be found in the article by Professor Justin Hansford. Jailing A Rainbow can be read at the link below:
Though the phrase “emancipate yourself from mental slavery” is commonly associated with “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley, few know the concept originated with Marcus Garvey. During a speech given in October 1937 at Nova Scotia’s Menelik Hall entitled “The Work That Has Been Done,” Garvey stated:
We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind …
Marcus Garvey’s memory has been kept alive worldwide. Schools, colleges, highways, and buildings in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States have been named in his honor. Garvey has also been immortalized in song and literary works both fiction and non. What follows is an attempt to delve into the influence Marcus Garvey continues to hold despite the fact he joined the ancestors more than seventy years ago and efforts by those who oppose the redemption of Africa to render him something other than influential.
Of primary significance is the UNIA red, black, and green flag which was presented to the world over ninety years ago on August 13, 1920. Since then it has been adopted as the Black Liberation Flag. In 1980, a bust of Garvey was placed in the Organization of American States’ Hall of Heroes in Washington, D.C.
Malcolm X’s father Earl Little met Malcolm’s mother Louise at a UNIA convention in Montreal, Canada. Little also was the president of the UNIA division in Omaha, Nebraska and sold the Negro World newspaper while his wife Louise was a contributor to the Negro World.
Kwame Nkrumah named the national shipping line of Ghana the Black Star Line in honor of Garvey and the UNIA. Nkrumah also named the national soccer team the Black Stars as well. The black star at the center of Ghana’s flag is also inspired by the Black Star Line.
During a trip to Jamaica, Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott King visited the shrine of Marcus Garvey on June 20, 1965 and laid a wreath. In a speech he told the audience that Garvey “was the first man of color to lead and develop a mass movement. He was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny. And make the Negro feel he was somebody.” Earlier that day at the National Arena, Dr. King was given the Keys to the City of Kingston after delivering another 40-plus-minute address. In his introductory remarks he was quoted as saying that “In Jamaica I feel like a human being.”
King was also the posthumous recipient of the first Marcus Garvey Prize for Human Rights on December 10, 1968 issued by the Jamaican Government and presented to King’s widow.
The United States of Africa first saw light in a 1924 poem by Garvey and is still discussed to this day.
Garvey and Rastafari
Rastafarians consider Garvey a religious prophet, saint and sometimes even the reincarnation of John the Baptist. This is partly because of statements renowned to have been uttered by him in speeches throughout the 1920s, usually along the lines of “Look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned for the day of deliverance is at hand!”
His beliefs deeply influenced the Rastafari, who took his statements as a prophecy of the crowning of Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. Early Rastas were associated with his Back-to-Africa movement in Jamaica. This early Rastafari movement was also influenced by a separate, proto-Rasta movement known as the Afro-Athlican Church that was outlined in a religious text known as the Holy Piby — where Garvey was proclaimed to be a prophet as well. Thus, the Rastafari movement can be seen as an offshoot of Garveyite philosophy. As his beliefs have greatly influenced Rastafari, he is often mentioned in reggae music, including that of Burning Spear and Dubwize (New Zealand).
Pop culture references
There have been pop culture references to Marcus Garvey since he first came on the international scene. Garvey is cited repeatedly in a diverse variety of books, songs and films as a legend worthy of emulation. As such, he stands out among leaders, historical and contemporary, for having continuously sustained a broad cultural relevance.
One of the first such instances was probably the tune “West Indies Blues” composed and written by New Orleans musicians J. Edgar Dowell with Spencer and Clarence Williams in 1923. The team was also responsible for another Garvey related tune “The Black Star Line”, first recorded by jazz singer Rosa Henderson in 1924 for Vocalion’s Aeolian label.
The reggae genre stands out for continuing to pay homage to Garvey as a great man worthy of recognition. Bob Marley, one of the most famous Rastafarians, coincidentally had his first hit song “Simmer Down” during early 1964. At the time negotiations had commenced on the disinterment and enshrinement of Garvey as the first National Hero of Jamaica. The song has a theme similar to that of Garvey’s own “Keep Cool”. Marley refers to Marcus Garvey in his song “So much things to say”, saying, “I’ll never forget no way: they sold Marcus Garvey for rice”. The song criticizes anyone willing to betray independent African leadership and the pittance the traitors receive (hence the phrase “for rice”). Marley’s, “Redemption Song” and “Africa Unite” echo the basic tenets of Garvey’s philosophy. ‘Redemption Song’ is significant in this instance in that a key phrase “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our mind’ is a paraphrase from a speech given by Garvey in 1937 while touring Nova Scotia. The entire speech was published in Garvey’s ‘Black Man’ magazine. Marley’s son, Damian Marley has a song entitled “Confrontation” from his 2005 Welcome To Jamrock album, with three excerpts of Garvey challenging his listeners to succeed.
Burning Spear, a well-known Jamaican reggae artist, has repeatedly mentioned Garvey, in albums including Garvey’s Ghost and Marcus Garvey. He released “Marcus Garvey ” in 1975, with two of the songs mentioning Garvey. Throughout Burning Spear’s career, Garvey has been a major influence on nearly every song.
Sinead O’Connor’s reggae-influenced 2005 album Throw Down Your Arms opens with a cover of Burning Spear’s song “Marcus Garvey”. O’Connor performed the song that year on The Late Late Show sporting a Garvey t-shirt. Erstwhile reggae producers Sly and Robbie joined her along with the Jamaican All-Star Band.
The group Culture wrote a song about Marcus Garvey’s “prophecy” on leaving the Spanish Town prison entitled “Two Sevens Clash”. The 1976 album of the same name also had the song “Black Star Liner Must Come”. In 1975 Big Youth recorded a song entitled “Marcus Garvey Dread” on his album “Dreadlocks Dread”. The Gladiators, a reggae band, often sing of Marcus Garvey, for example, their song “Marcus Garvey Time.” Jamaican harmony trio The Mighty Diamonds wrote a reggae song called “Them Never Love Poor Marcus”, referring to Garvey. They also refer to him in their song “I Need A Roof”.
In the intro to The Orb’s song Towers of Dub a prank caller, Victor Lewis-Smith, phones the London Weekend Television security desk and leaves a message for Haile Selassie saying that he should meet Marcus Garvey in Babylon. The ska band Hepcat has a song entitled “Marcus Garvey” on their album “Scientific”. The band Piebald has a song entitled “If Marcus Garvey Dies, Then Marcus Garvey Lives” on their album “If It Weren’t For Venetian Blinds, It Would Be Curtains For All Of Us.”
Zacheous Jackson Conscious message reggae music singer/songwriter refers to Marcus Garvey in his songs “Garvey Garvey” and “The Conspiracy” , which highlight the work of Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the conspiracy against him, and Zacheous also mentions Garvey in another of his songs called “Too Much A Wi”.
In the 1987 song “The Spirit Lives” on the album “Hold On To Love” by “Third World” the following verse appears:
Oh, the spirit lives
It’s living in the people and it can never die
Marcus Garvey, he lives on
He told his people they’ve got to be strong
One God, one aim, one destiny
Let Marcus Garvey live in you and me – well -
Hip hop groups also standout for having included references in their songs to Marcus Garvey. Progressive hip hop group Arrested Development, in their epic song “Revolution”  (from the soundtrack to the 1992 Spike Lee directed film Malcolm X) mentions Garvey near the beginning and end of the song. Hip Hop duo Black Star (consisting of rappers Mos Def and Talib Kweli) took the name of their debut album from the Black Star Line. The group Brand Nubian on their 1993 album “In God We Trust” had a song ‘Black Star Line’ with Redd Foxx. The cut was redolent with themes reminiscent of the 1924 song of the same name but with Garveyism in every verse.
Rapper Nasir Jones (AKA. Nas) made reference to Marcus Garvey in his debut album from 1995 Illmatic. In “Halftime” ( a song originally issued as a single and part of the 1992 Zebrahead soundtrack) he raps,
“And in the darkness
like when the narcs hit
word to Marcus Garvey”.
Nas also appears on the Wu-Tang Clan album The W in the song “Let My Niggas Live” with the following lyrics:
I scream at the mirror, curse, askin God, “Why me?”
Run in the black church, gun in my hand, y’all try me
I’m God-son, son of man, son of Marcus Garvey
Rastafari irie, Ha-ile Selassie 
On another Wu-Tang Clan track ‘I Can’t Go To Sleep’ featuring Isaac Hayes, the RZA states the following:
‘They… Exported Marcus
Garvey ’cause he tried to spark us
With the knowledge of ourselves, and our forefathers’.
The video has images of Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy. 
In the song “Ah Yeah” from the album KRS-One a verse is as follows:
They tried to burn me, lynch me and starve me
So I had to come back as Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley
They tried to harm me, I used to be Malcolm X
Now I’m on the planet as the one called KRS.
Ludacris, in his popular video “Pimpin’ All Over the World”, is wearing a T-Shirt with Garvey’s image and the legend: “A people without the knowledge of their past, history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots,” a quote attributed to Marcus Garvey. The Haitian-American rapper Wyclef Jean, in his appearance on Chappelle’s Show, performed his song “If I Was President”, that references Garvey:
“Tell the children the truth, the truth …
tell em about Marcus Garvey …”
Dead Prez refers to Marcus Garvey in most of their songs and live by his Red, Black and Green philosophy.
Daz Dillinger refers to Garvey in the song “Our Daily Bread”, in his album “Retaliation, Revenge and get Back” on Deathrow Records.
The perennially sampled funk group Funkadelic has the Red, Black and Green flag on the Pedro Bell drawn cover of their 1978 album “One Nation Under a Groove”. The image portrays a group of people planting the flag on the planet earth in a manner reminiscent of the Iwo Jima flag raising. The flag has the letters “R&B” emblazoned across it in white.
Other References to Garvey
Jazz Musicians Roy Ayers, Pharoah Sanders and Gil Scott-Heron each have completely different songs with the title “Red, Black and Green”. The Red, Black and Green flag originated with the organization Garvey founded, the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League on August 13th during their 1920 convention.
Fictional books also have made mention of Garvey, although to a lesser degree than in the musical realm. He is referenced in African-American novelist Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ on page 272 of the Vintage printing, while the Random House edition of 2002 has him mentioned in passages on pages 206 and 277. Ellison may have used Garvey as the basis for the book’s character Ras the Exhorter. He is a West Indian black nationalist “demagogue” who eventually leads to the book’s protagonist having an epiphany about his membership in a white-controlled group known as “the brotherhood”.
In William Gibson’s dystopian cyberpunk novel ‘Neuromancer’, Marcus Garvey is the name of the space tug which delivers the protagonists to the scene of the climax. Garvey appeared on the AP United States History exam on May 11th, 2007 on the multiple choice section. The question incorrectly labeled Garvey as the leader of the Black Power movement to help Blacks economically. In The Autobiography of Malcolm X, his name is stated as “Marcus Aurelius Garvey,” referencing Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius. Malcolm’s father, Earl Little was both a UNIA Division President and distributor of the Negro World newspaper.
The HBO television drama, The Wire, has an episode where African American mayoral candidate Clarence Royce uses Marcus Garvey posters in his campaign to win votes in majority Black Baltimore, Maryland. Royce is then accused by State Delegate Watkins of hiding behind the posters to win votes.
In the 2003 film “Antwone Fisher” the character of Antwone Fisher (played by Derek Luke) receives a copy of “The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey” from Dr. Jerome Davenport (played by Denzel Washington) as a gift.
1. The Black 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential African-Americans, Past and Present By Columbus Salley, Page 82, 1999, Citadel Press.
2. Daily Gleane; rJune 20, 1965: Martin Luther King Jr. visits Jamaica
3. M.G. Smith, Roy Augier and Rex Nettleford, “The Rastafari Movement in Kingston, Jamaica,” Kingston 1960, p.5
4. The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, Vol. V: September 1922-August 1924 (Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers), University of California Press, Page 801.
5. Damian Marley – Confrontation, Welcome To Jamrock Album,
6. Sinead O’Connor – Marcus Garvey on youtube
7. Third World The Spirit Lives Lyrics
8. Arrested Development Videos on VH1
9. YouTube – Nas – Halftime
10. TRUE Shit – Wu-Tang’s Let My Niggas Live/I Can’t Go To Sleep
11. Wu Tang Clan – I Can’t Go To Sleep Ft. Issac Hayes
12. Ludacris – Pimpin’ All Over The World: Golden Palace Version
13. “Antwone Fisher” 1:12 at Caption Swap, last accessed on October 31, 2007
“This Flag of Mine: Towards 100 Years of Red, Black and Green“ is a short documentary on the history of the RBG. Click here to buy your Shield of Righteous Power T-shirt. 2011 marks 91 years of Red, Black and Green. “This Flag of Mine: Towards 100 Years of Red, Black and Green” is a short documentary on the history of the flag. Part two will be released later this year covering the history of the flag from the 1960s up to the present.
August, 13 2020 will be the 100th anniversary of an historical event which continues to reverberate among the human race today. The Red, Black and Green flag was presented to the world as the flag of all African people on August 13, 1920. It was resolved to be the symbol of African nationhood and the entire African race in declaration 39 of the 1920 Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World. It had been 20 years since Will A. Heelan and J. Fred Helf put pen to paper and wrote the song “Every Race Has a Flag But the Coon.” Before then, people of African ancestry saw no use for a flag other than of the country where they lived. The power of a symbol for people of African ancestry has been recognized ever since. More than 90 years ago over 20,000 members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association gathered at Madison Square Garden. They were attending the first month long International Convention of the Universal Negro improvement Association, chaired by Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
Marcus Garvey prophet, legend and first National hero of Jamaica founded the UNIA in 1914. His work with the UNIA influenced people like Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Bob Marley, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King,Jr., and W.E.B. Dubois with his concept of African Redemption. Marcus Garvey was a builder of institutions. He along with the members of the UNIA started the Black Star Line Shipping Company. Garvey also was publisher and editor of the widely distributed Negro World weekly newspaper. He is known for saying: “Show me the race or nation without a flag and I will show you a race of people without any pride.” Why is the red, black and green our flag? First, flags are cloth designs communicating or signifying identity. Additionally, flags are for a nation, to publicly display patriotism or unity. The colors Red, Black and Green resonate with black people everywhere. The colors Red, Black and Green resonate with black people everywhere. The colors are said to have originated the flag of the Zanj or Zinj empire of Iraq. Red has powerful symbolic meaning. The color Red is for the color of blood shed in the cause of Black Liberation down through the centuries. In nature red is a color of warning. Red also indicates fruit is ripe for eating. It gets the viewers attention, carries a strong reaction and informs us what we see is important. Black points to the color of our noble people. The color represents Africans at home and abroad. The original name for Ancient Egypt, which everyone knows is in Africa, was Kemet. KMT in the original Kemetic language means the “Black Land” or “Land of the Blacks.” Black does not emit or reflect light; it absorbs all frequencies of the visible electromagnetic spectrum. Light interacts with atoms and molecules to convert to other forms of energy. As black absorbs light, it absorbs energy making black a thermal energy collector. Black is a color of authority and power. Judges and lawyers wear black robes. Priests, rabbis, and ministers wear black as well. Black is worn on important occasions. Black limousines are usually in abundance at such events. Sports teams have modified their uniforms so they have black in their away colors as it is perceived to impart a psychological advantage to the wearer. In accounting being “in the black” means all one’s debts have been paid and a profit is being generated. Black is also the color of the universe as is easily seen by looking at the night sky. Scientists have determined the universe consists primarily of Dark Matter. This matter accounts for the gravitational pull in effect throughout the universe. MELANIN!!! What makes black people black? MELANIN!!! Melanin is the aromatic chemical which makes black people black. It comes in several colors including red, yellow, brown and black. That’s why black people come in all colors. Green symbolizes the enormous, abundant, natural wealth of our Motherland Africa. In every natural sense Africa is the most blessed. Africa is a continent where land, people, mineral and plant resources have always been in abundance. During the African Independence explosion and civil rights movement of the 1960s the RBG saw a resurgence of popularity. In addition to the RBG being used as a model for flags in countries gaining independence such as Kenya, Zambia, Sudan, Libya, Ghana and others it was used as a symbol for unity in the United States of America. Along with independence came the need to express a national identity. One expression of national identity occurred in Jamaica. This was accomplished through the naming of “National Heroes” the first of which was Marcus Garvey. Garvey’s enshrinement in Kingston’s National Heroes Park on November 15, 1964 drew worldwide attention to his widow, Amy Jacques Garvey. During the sixties she authored two books “Garvey and Garveyism” and “Black Power in America: The Power of the Human Spirit.” Garvey and Garveyism was originally published in 1963, going through at least four printings by 1978. In it she laid out what Marcus Garvey did for Jamaicans in particular and Africans the world over in general. In Black Power in America: The Power of the Human Spirit, she explored the idea of Black Power and its origins with the words, works and deeds of Marcus Garvey. Amy Jacques Garvey also wrote a pledge to the flag entitled “THIS FLAG OF MINE” “THIS FLAG OF MINE” by Amy Jacques Garvey Regardless of what is told of it, Here’s to this flag of mine The Red, Black and Green Hopes in its future bright Africa has seen. Here’s to the Red of it, Great nations shall know of it In time to come. Red blood shall flow of it, Historians shall write of it, Great flag of mine. Here’s to the Black of it Four hundred millions back of it, Whose destiny depends on it The RED, BLACK and GREEN of it, Oh, Flag of Mine. Here’s to the Green of it Young men shall dream of it, Face shot and shells of it Waving so high. Here’s to the whole of it Colors bright and pole of it Pleased is my soul with it Regardless of what is told of it, Thank God for giving it Great Flag of Mine. Jesse Jackson symbolically opened the Black Expo by tying a red, black and green ribbon to “tie ourselves closer together.” Jackson also referred to it as a “love knot.” 12,000 people attended the first African Liberation day all displaying the red, black and green. During the Jena 6 protests RBG flags were in abundance. George Augustus Stallings broke from the Catholic Church and started the Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation. It’s altar is covered in RBG cloth. Of course the Red, black and green made itself known during the development of Kwanzaa. The million man march was another event where the RBG was invoked as a symbol of unity. An experimental “black survival curriculum” for the development of African Americans in Newark, NJ had as one of it’s mainstays the displaying of the RBG in classrooms. Each day started with a salute to the flag. Dick Gregory ran in the 1973 Boston Marathon wearing a red, black and green tracksuit, the colors of Chicago’s Malcolm X University, which he represented. Lawrence In 1971 Lawrence Hamm, although only 17 years old, pushed through a resolution by the Newark School board requiring all schools where the student body was greater than 50 percent African American to display the RBG in its classrooms. Now you know the true history of the flag of all people of African ancestry. Rally round the Red, Black and green flag by displaying it in your home, school, office and car. Celebrate the Red, black and Green flag. Wear Red, black and Green, gather publicly worldwide and pledge allegiance to our flag, especially on August 13th of every year. Tell everyone the true history of OUR FLAG…the Red, Black and Green Displaying the Red, Black and Green celebrates the Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, the Aims and Objectives of the UNIA, Africa’s coming redemption and a renewed African identity. Pride in our people and knowledge of our true history will grow…a history directly connected to the origin of the entire human race. The red, black and green flag conjures up images of Egypt better known as Kemet, Ethiopia and Timbuktu. Visions of the Ghana, Mali and Songhay empires spring to mind as well. Kerma, Napata and Meroe of the Nile valley in addition to The Great Zimbabwe include just a few of the great civilizations which the red, black and green flag inspires us to contemplate. We can rightfully boast to the whole world…all history, all culture, all thought originated in Africa and emanated outward. Awareness of Africa and our true destiny as African people will expand. We will deliberately and intentionally enter our rightful place in history, for as Dr. John Henrik Clarke still tells us “all history is a current event.”