|BOLDLY GRAPHIC AND UNUSUAL STARS & STRIPES PENNANT FROM THE ‘MARCH ON WASHINGTON’ OF AUGUST 28TH, 1963, WHEN MARTIN LUTHER KING DELIVERED HIS HISTORIC "I HAVE A DREAM" SPEECH; THIS EXAMPLE EHIBITED AT THE REGINALD F. LEWIS MUSEUM OF MARYLAND AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY:
|Frame Size (H x L):||18.75" x 24.75"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||10" x 16"|
|Stars & Stripes flags, banners, and pennants, made during the 19th century, were sometimes adorned with interesting graphics and textual messages. This continued into the beginning of the 20th century but dwindled quickly during the first quarter. After this time, it is very unusual to find interesting adaptations of the American national flag, printed with patriotic and political messages, especially with aesthetics that seem to hail from the previous century.
This fantastic and rare political pennant was flown in tribute of what would soon be touted as one of the most galvanizing events in American civil rights history. It would have been raised and waved by an attendee on that landmark day, in August of 1963, in our nation's capital, when Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.
Printed on paper, the triangular design is comprised of a vertical blue bar, on which 43 stars surround the words that served as the mantra of the 1960's black rights movement: "We Shall Overcome". Joan Baez sung the folk song of the same name that day at the parade, written by Pete Seeger and others, to the crowd in attendance estimated between 200,000 and 300,000.
The star count has no specific meaning. The stars simply serve to decorate the text and complete the flag-like image. The blue bar is followed by a field of 17 stripes—again with their number merely decorative—on which the following words appear in the same blue ink:
"I Marched for Equality in the Freedom Parade; August 28, 1963; Washington, D. C."
The official title for the assembly was "The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom." Two blue stars follow in the last white stripe, for unknown purpose, possibly once again for artistic balance.
Today just a tiny handful of examples are known, in addition to this one. I acquired and sold three others, now in private collections. This exact pennant was lent by Jeff R. Bridgman Antiques, Inc. to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum for Maryland African American History and Culture for an exhibit entitled "For Whom it Stands: The Flag and the American People," from May 17, 2014 – February 28, 2015. It is illustrated twice in a book by the same name, authored by Michelle Joan Wilkerson (2015, Reginald F. Lewis Museum for Maryland African American History and Culture), p. 22 and 61.
One of the others, in a private collection in Washington, D.C., was carried by a woman by the name of Theresa Gehring, recollected in a story that she dictated to her son, documenting the day's events. Another is among the holdings of the Smithsonian.
I also acquired a period photograph of one of these pennants in use on August 27th, 1963, affixed to an automobile antenna. The photo was taken by United Press International (UPI), during preparations for the event. At least two other images also survive of these pennants, being displayed by attendees of the march, on the same day.
Provenance: (see above for exhibition history) Mounting: The solid walnut frame retains its original varnished surface and dates to the Civil War era. This is a pressure mount between 100% cotton velvet and U.V. protective plexiglass.
Condition: The pennant was formerly framed, probably by the original owner, and it was folded at the top and bottom. There is pigment loss at the creases. Two punched holes allowed a wooden dowel to be inserted, which is an unusual method of affixing a staff. There are minor tears around the holes. The extreme tip at the fly end is slightly torn. There is minor soiling throughout. Because paper parade flags and pennants rarely survived, the state of preservation is expected and perfectly acceptable. Further, the extreme rarity warrants practically any condition.
|Collector Level:||Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings|
|Flag Type:||Parade flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1963|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1963|
|State/Affiliation:||District of Columbia|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|