In 2015, the city of Birmingham, AL, sponsored a design competition to redesign the city's flag. This was my entry into the contest.
The crimson peaks stand for the iron-rich earth of Red Mountain and the surrounding topography—a resource which birthed Birmingham’s explosion of industry and early prosperity. These same mountains, with their broken edges and blood-stained color, remind us of some of the more painful chapters in our history – from the Creek War to the Civil War to the dogs and fire hoses of the Civil Rights movement.
The four stars represent Birmingham’s greatest shame and sadness—the too-short lives of Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley. There will never be a day when their brutal murders in the 16 th Street Baptist Church bombing do not hang over Birmingham as both indictment of who we’ve been and an exhortation toward who we must become.
The spear of Vulcan, who has stood guard over the city since 1906, points the way to the prosperity, peace, and unity of that better future, symbolized by the field of deep blue.
The two-tone shading of the spear suggests the racial tension that has defined Birmingham for so many generations and reminds us that the path forward must be walked together in equality.
The history of Birmingham is punctuated by conflict and violence that we may prefer, at times, to forget. This flag is designed to guide us into a new era of peace, community, and prosperity while never letting us forget our painful history—the furnace in which the character of this great city has been forged.