Rasta Colors Meaning History and Marcus Garvey

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Rasta colors in flag often make use of the colours red, black, green, and gold. Red, gold, and green were used in the Ethiopian flag while, prior to the development of Rastafari, the Jamaican black nationalist activist Marcus Garvey had used red, green, and black as the colours for his United Negro Improvement Association.

According to Garvey, the red symbolised the blood of martyrs, the black symbolised the skin of Africans, and the green represented the vegetation of the land. Many Rastas endorse these associations to the colours.

The colour gold is often included alongside Garvey’s three colours; it has been adopted from the Jamaican flag, and is often interpreted as symbolising the minerals and raw materials which constitute Africa’s wealth.

Marcus Garvey, a prominent black nationalist theorist who heavily influenced Rastafari and is regarded as a prophet by many Rastas

Rastas often paint these colours onto their buildings, vehicles, kiosks, and other items, or display them on their clothing, helping to demarcate Rastas from non-Rastas and allowing adherents to recognise their co-religionists.

As well as being used by Rastas, the colour set has also been adopted by Pan-Africanists more broadly, who use it to display their identification with Afrocentricity; for this reason it was adopted on the flags of many post-independence African states.

Rastas often accompany the use of these three or four colours with the image of the Lion of Judah, also adopted from the Ethiopian flag and symbolizing Haile Selassie

Both Ethiopianism and the Back to Africa ethos remain “fundamental ingredients of Rastafarian ideology”. These two movements predated Rastafari and can be traced back to the eighteenth century.

Rastas often claim the flag of Ethiopia as was used during Haile Selassie’s reign. It combines the conquering lion of Judah, symbol of the Ethiopian monarchy, with green, gold, and red.

Of significant influence on Rastafari was the Jamaican-born activist Marcus Garvey, who spent much of his adult life in the United States and United Kingdom. Garvey supported the idea of global racial separatism and rejected the idea that black people of African descent living in the Americas should campaign for their civil rights; instead he believed that they should migrate en masse back to Africa.

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