NEWBURGH – Newburgh kicked off February as Black History Month by raising the Pan-African flag downtown to commemorate the history of African Americans and their ancestors.
City Councilman At-Large Omari Shakur, who led the event in Broadway Park, across from the SUNY Orange campus and public safety building, said the tri-colored, striped flag represents the struggle African Americans have met.
The red on the flag represents the blood that unites all African Americans; black represents black people whose existence as a nation, though not a nation-state, is affirmed by the existence of the flag; and green represents the abundant natural wealth of Africa.
“This is about the struggle and this is a time and place right now to let people know that this struggle is still ongoing, and that’s why we are paying homage to history to our ancestors, but this is also for our children to learn what they went through so they have a better understanding of what they are going to go through,” he said.
Councilwoman Giselle Martinez said the community must stand together all year long.
“A lot of people confuse or separate black history and American history, so it should already be incorporated, and this is just one step that the city is showing solidarity to the African American community in Newburgh,” she said.
Ray Harvey, the president of the Newburgh-Highland Falls NAACP said, “It warms my heart” to see there is progress made for African Americans, but says more progress is needed especially “jobs and education in the City of Newburgh.”
Although the flag is flown for Black History Month, Harvey feels the “narrative needs to be changed,” because Black history is American history and should be celebrated every day.
The Pan-African flag will be flown throughout the month of February in Broadway Park located at Broadway and Colden Street.