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Should Albany replace its city flag?

Common council member Owusu Anane has been floating the idea of redesigning Albany's flag.
Dave Lucas
10th ward Common council member Owusu Anane has been floating the idea of redesigning Albany's flag.

A common council member has been floating the idea of redesigning Albany's flag.  

Albany's orange, white and blue striped flag was designed in 1909, based on the flag flown by the Dutch East India Company. Celebrating the tricentennial of Henry Hudson's discovery of the Hudson River, it was adopted in 1912 by the Albany Common Council.

 The flag features a shield flanked by a farmer and a Native American. A Dutch sailing sloop sits above the shield and the word “Assiduity,” a synonym for “diligence,” appears below. 10th ward Common Councilor Owusu Anane says the city should be flying a modern flag that reflects its diversity.

"We introduced the resolution about two years ago, when a high school student at Albany High reached out to me to really to see if we can revisit Albany's flag," Anane said. "His name is Adam Aleksic, and he used to visit different cities and towns with his parents. And he saw the pride that other cities had of the a flag flying around. I mean, you go to Albany, there's not a flag flying anywhere."

Anane, who began calling for a change in 2020, is also running for the state Assembly’s 109th district seat. He is hoping to re-kindle interest in redesigning the city’s flag.

Aleksic is now a content creator, making linguistics videos. The Havard grad says in places like Chicago and Milwaukee you see city flags everywhere. He argues Albany's flag is poorly designed.

"I came across the North American Vexillological Association's recommendations for how a good flag should be designed," Aleksic said. "And there's a five rules that it should be recognizable at a distance that a child should be able to draw, it shouldn't use more three colors, there shouldn't be words in the flag, and it should do a good job of representing the city."

Aleksic says aside from poor graphic design, Albany's flag doesn't correctly represent its people.

"There's words in the flag, an ugly seal on the flag was also like problematic, and I think depiction of a Native American man. And then also the design of the flag itself. The blue, white, orange is based on the prince's flag of the Netherlands, which also was the basis for the South African apartheid flag,"sid Aleksic. 

Anane says the racial implication didn't factor into his call to put a task force together to figure out what to do about Albany's flag, if anything.

"Ultimately Albany residents are going to have a say whether they want to keep the flag, or they want to come up with a new flag," Anane said. "But we're having a contest to see if there are individuals who are interested in creating a flag that they could all be proud of."

Anane’s resolution passed the full council. Next, a committee will be formed to set the process in motion.

Aleksic believes a re-design could invigorate the city and boost civic pride.

"The best ways that this is done is through some kind of public contest with a panel that vets submissions, presents some finalists, and then people vote on the finalists. And time and time again. So the North American Vexillological Association has like done this process in a bunch of different cities. And this always leads to the best design kind of flag. So I would highly recommend, it seems like the resolution passed by the common council is in that direction, which is amazing. But having some kind of contest, where the public is involved where they feel like they have input into the proceedings, also some kind of body that makes sure it's not some kind of meme flag or something, that it's actually good design," said Aleksic. 

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan declined to comment.



Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.