On August 13, 1920, 32 year-old Marcus Mosiah Garvey chaired a meeting of the Universal Negro Improvement Association at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was the 13th day of the first International U.N.I.A. convention.
Garvey and the 20,000 UNIA members in attendance that day were gathered for the presentation of a document which has been described as the “Second Emancipation Proclamation.”
The Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World is also the birth certificate for the Red, Black and Green flag. The twelve complaints and fifty-four articles of the Declaration are evidence of a growth in awareness among Black people, African people, Melanin people at home and abroad. The Declaration was produced “in order to encourage our race all over the world and to stimulate it to a higher and grander destiny…”
Declaration thirty-nine states:
That the colors, Red, Black and Green, be the colors of the Negro race.
With the declaration, a spiritual evolution among Black people at home and abroad took flight and we began to see ourselves as a global people, a cosmic people. We became people capable of perceiving “…no height to which we cannot climb by using the active intelligence of our own minds.” We became people who were once again using our own minds to create what we desired. We began to do so just as our ancestors had done hundreds of thousands of years ago on the continent of Africa. We are still creating solutions despite the assertions of those such as United States Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney that we:
…had no rights which the white man was bound to respect…
August 13, 1920 we seized destiny with both hands. We proclaimed our rights, and allowed cross purposes to go to the winds.
Just the year prior we endured the notorious “Red Summer of 1919.” Before that, on May 25, 1918, we witnessed the lynching of eight months pregnant Mary Turner. Though Woodrow Wilson denounced lynching in general during his July 26, 1918 speech to the United States, he neglected to mention Turner, or the events that led to her untimely demise.
Today, August 13, 2017 is the 97th year since the Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World was presented. At this time the world has become radically different from what it was in 1920. We have had an African American President of the United States, separate but equal has been invalidated and colonialism has been sent into the dustbin of history.
Although much work has been done, much remains to be done. Most people of African ancestry do not know the history of the Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World. We must change that. They, also, do not know they have a flag which has been with us for 97 years.
They have not been told of the wisdom of our ancestors like Reverend George Alexander McGuire who compiled the Universal Black Man Catechism one year after the Declaration of Rights in 1921. We have had the responsibility of teaching the legacy of the UNIA bestowed upon us. We take great pride in sharing the words of the Catechism that tell us the symbolic meaning of the colors:
Q. What do these Colors represent?
A. Red is the color of the blood which men must shed for their redemption and liberty ; black is the color of the noble and distinguished race to which we belong; green is the color of the luxuriant vegetation of our Motherland.
It has been said that information is power. We view power as Dr. Huey P. Newton did. Dr. Newton said, “…power is, first of all, the ability to define phenomena, and secondly the ability to make these phenomena act in a desired manner.” Those who defined the phenomena of the Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World exerted their power and brought the Declaration into existence. The legacy of the Red, Black and Green flag is that phenomena acting in a desired manner.
When we look at the world through eyes informed of the true nature of our physical make-up and reexamine the same world with a fresh vision, it becomes clear we are in possession of a form of power which the world as it is now has yet to reckon with.
The power of the wisdom of the framers of the Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World is also demonstrated through the sustained symbolism of the RBG. To this day Red is still for the blood, Black is still for the people and Green still represents the motherland…Africa.
It is important today that we know our red blood connects us to the origins of the entire human race on the continent of Africa. Those 20,000 UNIA members had the wisdom and foresight to provide us with a means to assert our ancestral legacy with all the power which they infused it.
Today we know Black is not just a color. Black is symbolic of melanin. Melanin puts the Black in the Red, Black and Green and puts the B in RBG. The chemical melanin is an aromatic biopolymer and organic semiconductor worth over $350 a gram more than gold. We can rightfully assert that not only is the dollar value of melanin not an accident it is the virtue of our ancestors at work. It is for this reason that we designate took the initiative in designating August 13 as World Melanin Day.
Today Green is for Africa, the world’s most valuable piece of real estate. We acknowledge the existence of neo-colonialism in the current state of Africa. We also acknowledge the potential for a future radically different from the present and the past. 100 years ago no one would have believed the same continent which was looked on with scorn and revulsion would be the continent from which the entire human race traces it’s origins. Black people, African people, at home and broad are looking for a way. Africa is it. When the first humans spoke, they did it on the continent of Africa. When that first human stood up and took that first great walk in the sun, it happened in Africa. When humans first had whatever we consider thought, that thought began in Africa. Whatever people believe is significant as human endeavor on the face of the earth today, know for sure that it would not be if Africans had not walked, talked and thought, first.
So today, on this 97th anniversary of the origin of the Red, Black and Green we urge you to let go of limitations. Let us become aware of an awareness beyond what we know today. Likewise, we are aware of the work that was done to give us the Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World 97 years ago. By virtue of the fact that we are here, now, in this place, celebrating the fact we have a flag capable of uniting into one grand racial hierarchy the sons and daughters of Africa, at home and abroad, we are extremely powerful, although some refuse to recognize it.
We are the descendants of the survivors of the most brutal, vicious, sadistic, inhumane behavior ever visited upon one group of people by another in the history of the world. The mere fact we are capable of rubbing two thoughts together after all our people have endured means the future is bright, if for no other reason than that we are here today looking forward to a future of infinite possibilities.