Flying the Red, Green and Black


The raising of the Pan-African Flag in Antigonish

On February 1, in honour of the commencement of African History Month, the town of Antigonish raised the pan-African flag for the first time ever. The Pan-African Flag, also known as the UNIA Flag, the Afro-American Flag and the Black Liberation Flag, was first adopted by the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA) in 1920 and consists of three equal horizontal bands coloured red, black and green.

According to the UNIA the red of the flag represents the blood that unites all people of black-African ancestry, and the blood that was shed for liberation; the black represents the blackness of the people, whose existence as a nation, though not a nation-state, is affirmed by the existence of the flag; and the green represents the abundant natural wealth of the African continent.

The flag became a symbol of African nationalism for the worldwide liberation of people of African Origin and was later popularized during the black liberation movement of the 1960s. It is often flown in celebration of black-African history and culture. Having the flag flown in Antigonish, and other towns throughout Nova Scotia symbolizes a movement towards the furthered recognition and celebration of African Nova Scotian people and history, a history that has extremely strong roots in this part of the country.

Lorraine Reddick who has been a student support worker at the Regional High school for over a decade, spoke about African History Month on Social Justice Radio a few weeks ago. Reddick, a Nova Scotian woman of African descent, who also works as the co-chair of the Zone 7 committee, that works to organize the events of AHM in the area, says that they presented to the town about a month ago, and asked if they would be able to fly the flag in front of the town hall for the month of February.

The notion was soon approved, and the flag was raised earlier this week. When asked what the flag means to the community, Reddick said: “having the flag flying during African History Month promotes our values as African Nova Scotian people. It recognizes our struggle and what our ancestors have gone through, slavery, racism, colonialism…and I believe it gives us a sense of achievement and strength for our people.”

Reddick continued by stating, “It also promotes and recognizes solidarity, hope and unity for our people, within the community and across the province. For us, as African people it truly is a sense of pride, it’s a recognition of our cultures and it speaks to who we are. It also reinforces the identity of the town-that we are indeed a part of this community. I am so happy and proud.”

The flag is currently flying outside of the town hall located on main street and is set to fly for the month of February as we continue to celebrate African heritage, history and culture. Reddick, who has had much meaningful contact with young people over the course of her career, tells us that theme of African History Month this year is education, and highlights that incorporating better education on African History and culture into our school curriculums is extremely important.

She points out the importance of representation, and how students are thought to succeed and flourish when they understand where they came from and see people like themselves represented among teaching staff and within their textbooks and classrooms. As we know, flags are very symbolic and having the pan-African flag flying in Antigonish is a step towards further recognizing and fostering the place of African heritage in our town, province and country.