african-american-flag

David Hammons (b. 1943) is an African-American artist from New York City. Among his works, which are often inspired by the civil rights and Black Power movements, one of the best known is the “African American Flag”, which he designed in 1990 by recoloring the U.S. national flag in the Garvey colors (red, black, and green of the Pan-African flag). The flag is a part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and a copy is hoisted at the entrance to the Studio Museum in Harlem, a New York museum devoted to the art of African-Americans.

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Freedom is selective and only befriends those who know a lesser emotional weight. It only kisses the foreheads of those who needn’t imagine the distant screams of many who have come before them as they read the morning news. We’re still searching for the shards of glass that once made up a window we’ve only heard fables about looking out of. Generations later we’re still hoping to gather all the pieces, bloodied fingers with each discovery. We still aspire to sit in the sill, take a deep breath, and truly understand what liberty is. We have been hated, hunted, and denied the right to grieve. Right hand over heart, ingrained memories of shackles and violence, we are Americans in queue waiting to be kissed by each star and stripe. The weights of capitalism and white supremacy on our backs, we’re still picking up the pieces, creating the view our lost ones deserved. Photography: lex-the-creative Creative & Art Direction: dopenmind Makeup: Rochelle Jones Models: Cameron Townsend, Senettra Harvey *please do not remove original text*

The Black guy died first.

As we celebrate this day of American Independence, let’s take a moment to remember the very first man who died for what-would-become-the-United-States.

His name was Crispus Attucks.

His father was a Black slave and his mother was from the Natick tribe. Crispus ran away from his childhood plantation. He became a respected sailor in New England. Whilst in Boston in 1770, a dispute with redcoats led to them opening fire on Crispus and then several others. This incident became known as “The Boston Massacre”, which, you’ll recall, jump-started the American Revolution.

As Black people are shot in the streets (and churches) on a daily basis, as Native tribes are further displaced, and as White people desperately cling to a symbol of bigotry, let’s take a moment to remember when the death of a Black man and Native American inspired this country to change for the better.

Happy 4th, y'all.

Spirit of Freedom an African-American Civil War Soldier Celebration

Andrew Bowman stands with an American flag and a portrait of his grandfather, Andrew Jackson Smith of the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Colored Infantry, as Bowman portrays Smith, at the Spirit of Freedom, the 18th Annual African-American Civil War Soldier Celebration at Crown Hill Cemetery, Thursday, June 5, 2014.  Kelly Wilkinson/The Star

Regiment lost during service 3 Officers and 64 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 128 Enlisted men by disease. Total 197.

The Confederate flag is no more violent than the racist ideology that gives it its symbolic power. Racist ideologies, and more specifically, philosophies of anti-blackness, are at the root of the types of state-sanctioned violence that results in the disproportionate shooting deaths of unarmed black people by police, like Walter Scott in North Charleston, and the killing of the nine black victims at Emanuel AME.

Indeed, South Carolina is beset by problems that a flag’s removal cannot correct. And if we celebrate politicos who view their stand against the flag as an aim more noble than the actual work of creating policies that undo racial inequity, we are all to blame. Symbolic victory is cheap if it is not matched by material transformation.

David Hammons grew up in Illinois, but he moved to New York City when he was in his thirties.  That is where his “African American Flag” hangs - above The Studio Museum of Harlem.  Even though Hammons isn’t originally from New York, I think the fact that he places his art there shows that the city has become a part of his culture.

-Emily