The Black American Heritage Flag was designed by Melvin Charles and Gleason T. Jackson in 1967 during the pivotal civil rights movement in the US. The flag is also known as the African American Heritage Flag. Melvin Charles stated about the inspiration for the flag: “It was in both our minds for a long time.”
Even as a child of three years old Charles would watch the parades go by in the streets where he lived. He saw many other flags represented, including the American flag, and the Italian flag, but he didn’t feel there was one to represent his community.
As neighbors, Charles and Gleason started talking about something they could do to make progress for the black community, and the Black American Heritage Flag was born. They wanted to spread the word about their new symbol for the African-American community. In 1967 they went down to City Hall to unfurl and present the flag to the community. Although they faced some opposition, the flag was put up on March 5 at the City Hall in Newark, New Jersey.
Charles states on creating the flag: “I’m proud of it every time I see it unfurled. I’m proud of it every time I speak about it”.
What does the flag represent?
The Black American Heritage Flag is a symbol that represents the pride, history, and accomplishments of the African-American community.
The flag contains diagonal stripes of red and black, with a gold wreath circling a gold blunted sword.
According to Melvin Charles, the blunted sword represents pride while the gold wreath represents peace, prosperity, and everlasting life.
Red is for the blood that has been shed by the community for freedom, justice, and human dignity, while black represents the pride in the skin color and the black community.
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