A flag at half-staff signifies distress and mourning. It serves as a reminder of what was lost, as well as a symbol of respect for the dead. Ahead of Independence Day in the U.S., Courageous Conversation Global Foundation is marking not just a single tragedy but 400 years of enslavement, segregation and discrimination with a campaign that flies the “African-American Flag” at half-staff.
An augmented reality Instagram lens from Goodby Silverstein & Partners lets users place a flagpole anywhere, along with the flag originally created by artist David Hammons—a stylized version of the U.S. flag in the colors of the Pan-African flag, with black stars on a green field and red and black stripes. Users can record their own messages to share how they feel.
“When you see a flag at half-staff, you wonder what’s happened—a mass shooting, a prominent statesman or stateswoman passing away, etc. This specific flag at half-staff is representative of the constant suffering Black America has endured for far too long,” said Creative Director Anthony O’Neill in a statement.
Though timed for the Fourth of July, the campaign is an indictment of the holiday that purports to celebrate freedom but was begun by a group of mostly slaveholders, who then enshrined the practice as official doctrine in their new country. A launch video opens with an 1852 quote from Frederick Douglass: “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.”
“Even to this day, on the Fourth of July, Black Americans do not experience the freedom and liberation that were stitched into the fabrics [of the makings] of our nation,” added Glenn Singleton, founder and president of CCGF, in the statement.
The film also invites viewers to begin a conversation with others, and includes calls to action, such as contacting senators to support the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, which passed the House of Representatives in 2020 but, like many things, has been held up by Republican opposition in the Senate.
“We recognize that at times revisiting the past can be painful,” added Creative Director Rony Castor, but we also think it’s extremely important to revisit these moments to better understand the present.”