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What Does It Mean if an American Flag Has Different Colors?

Although you might not think about it frequently, we Americans are very attached to color symbolism. Take the design of our flag, for example—red, white, and blue is America. So, it might be a little confusing to see an American flag that displays a non-traditional color scheme. What does it mean when someone changes the color of the American Flag? Is that even allowed?

Well, technically, no. But the rules have gotten a little more relaxed in recent years, and many people agree today that it’s okay to use a flag with different colors on it, especially if you fly it below the real American flag. Together, let’s break down some of the various color schemes of American flags and what each of them means.

The Various Color Schemes

Over the years, people have designed American Flags with non-traditional color schemes. Some of these different flag variations include:

  • Red and black
  • Blue
  • Green and white
  • Black and grey
  • Purple
  • Complementary colors
  • All-white
  • All black

Buckle up. You may not have even known that these flag variations existed.

What Does A Red And Black Flag Mean?

A red and black flag looks pretty edgy, and it stands for something hardcore, too — punk rock music!

The U.S. punk rock music band Bad Religion shows a red and black U.S. national flag on the cover of its album "The Empire strikes first.”

The design replaces white with red. Blue is swapped out for black and red from the traditional design. The stripe pattern starts and ends with a dark stripe. The shade of red used is a bit brighter than the red we are used to seeing on the American flag.

If you are ever hanging out with someone who flies a red and black American flag, it's safe to assume they are punk fans.

What Does A Blue, Green, And White Flag Mean?

A blue, green, and white flag can be associated with ecological campaigners. In other words, someone who flies these colors on their American Flag supports environmental efforts.

This design still has the blue field of stars in the upper left corner. The red stripes are swapped out with green, and the white stripes remain the same.

Next time you see a blue, green, and white flag, that might mean that a treehugger is nearby.

What Does A Black And Grey Flag Mean?

A black and grey American flag was flown in Washington D.C. in 2015 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. This historic event consisted of a large gathering of black men in Washington, D.C., on October 16, 1995. The event was organized by Louis Farrakhan and it was held on and around the National Mall.

The Million Man March was a political demonstration meant to promote African American unity and family values. They estimate that the number of marchers involved ranged from 400,000 to 1.1 million. This turnout ranked amongst the largest gatherings of its kind in American history.

This flag displays blue and gray that replaces the blue and red in the traditional American Flag representation.

What Does A Purple Flag Mean?

If you see a purple American flag that replaces the red and blue regions of the traditional design with purple, it probably doesn’t have a significant meaning. This flag design is purely for aesthetics.

For all those purple lovers out there, this flag might be for you!

What Does A Flag With Complementary Colors Mean?

Flags that include orange, black, and green in place of blue, white, and red were sold by the Paramount Flag Co. in the 1970s and 1980s. This design that features complementary colors was borrowed from the painting "Flags (Moratorium)" by Jasper Johns. This flag was created to commemorate the 1969 anti-war Moratorium Marches.

What Does An All-White Flag Mean?

An all-white American Flag was sold by Paramount Flag Co. in the 1970s and 1980s. It was created as an honor to the book “The Stars and the Stripes” by Boleslaw and Marie-Louise D’Otrange Mastai, which was published in 1973. The book shows the different variations of the American Flag over a 200 year period.

The edges of the stripes and canton were made with heavy stitching, making them look incredibly white. This is considered the first official all-white variant of the U.S flag, but the design was around prior to the book. This flag’s first appearance was in 1955, in a painting called “White Flag” by Jasper Johns.

Other all-white flags have been seen since, particularly in several art installations. For example, an all-white American Flag was hoisted over the Brooklyn Bridge in 2014. A pair of artists from Berlin said they were the ones who pulled off the stunt as a tribute to the beauty of the public space.

What Does An All-Black Flag Mean?

To this day, there does not seem to be one specific symbol behind an all-black American Flag.

In general, black flags are used by enemy forces to signify that enemy combatants are going to be killed rather than taken prisoner—essentially, the opposite of the white flag used to represent surrender. This is also sometimes referred to as “give no quarter.”

Most black American flags are entirely black, meaning that stars and stripes become almost impossible to see. For this reason, you may also see them on military fatigues, so that soldiers can show respect for their country without drawing attention to themselves with bright colors.

Other Flag Variations

American Flags can vary in more than just color. Many flags throughout American history display a different number of stars and stripes. In fact, there have been 27 versions of the American flag since the U.S was founded. Every new flag represented the expansion of North America in its pursuit of manifest destiny.

The 27 different versions include; a thirteen-star U.S Flag, a fifteen-star flag, a twenty-star flag, a twenty-five-star flag, and more, up until we got the fifty-star variation we are familiar with today.

The Good ‘Ol Traditional American Flag

Despite the copious amount of different colored American Flags out there, you can’t beat tradition. The good old-fashioned red, white and blue flag does the job for most Americans. It does the job for us, too.

Allegiance Flag Supply is a great place to find the American flag that’s right for you. Allegiance Flags are made in America (South Carolina, to be exact), because we’re committed to bringing jobs into the U.S. We use solid, sturdy material, as well as double needle lock stitching and extra stabilization in order to create a flag that lasts.

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not you need one of our flags, check out these awesome reviews!

To Sum It Up

While the colors red, white, and blue remain an iconic symbol of the United States and are the ones featured on the official flag, there are several variations out there with different meanings. The next time you see an all-white flag or one with green, black, and orange, you’ll know exactly what it means. Regardless of the color that you see a flag in, you should make sure that you show it the respect it deserves and take it as a reminder of the great country in which we live.


Sources:


Million Man March | American history | Britannica

Bad Religion | Discogs

The Stars and Stripes: Here are the 27 different US flags| USA Today