Dr. Martin Luther King Lit The Empire State Building Red, Black and Green.

Note: The Red, Black and Green colors of Africans at home and abroad began its 100th year which we call #RBG100 on August 13, 2020. The Empire State Building will once again honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a Red, Black and Green tower lighting on January 18, 2021. Watch the lighting live at the link here via Earthcam or here via Skyline.

Watch a fascinating time lapse of the Empire State Building being lit Red, Black and Green.

For over thirty years, the Empire State Building has honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a Red, Black and Green tower lighting. January 18, 2016 the Empire State Building was lit Red, Black and Green on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It was also lit RBG January 16, 2017 and January 15, 2018.

The Empire State Building lit Red, Black and Green in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Red, Black and Green was presented to the world as the colors of ALL Black people in New York City’s Madison Square Garden on August 13, 1920.

The event was the thirteenth day of the first month long annual international convention of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. It was chaired by UNIA President General Marcus Mosiah Garvey. They met to present the Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World for the very first time. Declaration 39 states: “That the colors, Red, Black and Green, be the colors of the Negro race.”

Declaration of Rights of Negro Peoples of the World
Cover from the July 31, 1926 edition of the Negro World Newspaper showing the Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World.

That means Black people, Colored People, Negro people, African people, at home and abroad, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have a flag that is over 100 years old.

The colors Red, Black and Green have symbolic meaning for Black people. Red symbolizes the sacred tie of blood uniting Black people worldwide through our African ancestors. Black symbolizes Black people, at home in, Africa and abroad, in the diaspora. Green symbolizes the verdant, lush, material wealth of Africa. Plants are just one form of wealth in Africa. There are also natural resources such as gold, platinum, palladium, rhodium, and oil among others.

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A value for value relationship exists because you are reading this post and have learned the value of melanin. Buying a melanin value t-shirt keeps that relationship alive. Wearing your melanin value t-shirt creates a value for value relationship with those who see it. Consider the possibility that learning about melanin and its value elevates awareness, leading to a shift in perception.

We have been celebrating the Red, Black and Green on August 13th of every year for at least 15 years. The RBG Challenge is a part of the celebration. When Black people wear Red, Black and Green it sends a message of hope, makes a statement of unity and demonstrates mental emancipation. If the Empire State building can wear Red, Black and Green one day a year, every Black person on earth can wear red, black, and green at least one day a year. That day is August 13th.

How does all that connect to Dr. King?

To answer that question we have to go back to June 20, 1965. That was when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. went to Jamaica with his wife Coretta Scott King. They were accompanied on the trip by Rev. and Mrs. Ralph Abernathy in addition to the Rev. Bernard Lee, Dr. King’s private secretary and Mrs. Lee.

That day in Kingston, Jamaica Dr. King gave the valedictory address at the University of the West Indies. His speech was entitled ‘Facing the Challenge of a New Age.’

During his remarks Dr. King stated, “In Jamaica I feel like a human being.” He also said, “I am a Jamaican,” which echoed the sentiments of U.S. President John F. Kennedy when he said, “Ich Bin ein Berliner” which translates to “I am a Berliner,” during a speech he made in Berlin Germany a few years prior.

MLK at Marcus Garvey Shrine in Kingston
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (second from right) studies photographs hanging from the cut-stone backing of the Garvey Mausoleum after laying a wreath at Garvey’s shrine in the George VI Memorial Park yesterday (June 20,1965). Others in the picture are from left, Mr. Frank hill, Chairman of the Jamaica National Trust Commission; Mrs. Amy Jacques Garvey (Mr. Garvey’s widow) and Mr. Eustace White, secretary of the Jamaican branch of the U.N.I.A. (Caption via the Jamaica Gleaner)

While in Jamaica Dr. King also visited the Mausoleum of Marcus Garvey. He was accompanied to what is now known as National Heroes Park by Garvey’s widow Amy Jacques Garvey. While there Dr. King laid a wreath at Garvey’s shrine.

In his remarks at the shrine, Dr. King called Garvey, “the first man of colour in the history of the United States to lead a mass movement. He was the first 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.”

Dr. King told those in attendance, “you gave Marcus Garvey to the United States of America and he gave to the millions of Negroes in the United States a sense of person hood, a sense of manhood, a sense of somebodiness.” He further stated, “As we stand here let us pledge ourselves to continue the struggle in the same spirit of somebodiness…in the conviction that all God’s children are significant…that God’s black children are just as significant as his white children. And we will not stop until we have freedom in all its dimensions.”

In a speech before the SCLC on August 16, 1967 entitled “Where Do We Go From Here” Dr. King said:

Psychological freedom, a firm sense of self-esteem, is the most powerful weapon against the long night of physical slavery. No Lincolnian Emancipation Proclamation, no Johnsonian civil rights bill can totally bring this kind of freedom. The Negro will only be free when he reaches down to the inner depths of his own being and signs with the pen and ink of assertive manhood his own emancipation proclamation.

What he is describing here is no less than the Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World. Black people declared themselves free when they reached down and signed the Declaration of Rights. Part of that declaration was to give themselves a flag on August 13, 1920. Waving the Red, Black and Green is the expression of a dimension of freedom that only we can give to ourselves.

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