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The History of Howard's Colors

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Why does Howard bleed blue? It's not any shade of blue - but a specific distinctive shade of indigo - iconic and proud to the Howard community, with its occasional dash of red. But why did our forefathers select blue to course through our veins?

As it turns out, the origins of our school colors don't reach much further than the history of our own country. Howard University’s colors — indigo blue, red, and white — correspond to the colors of the American flag. The blue and white were in use as athletic colors from at least 1882, while the red was added to the University’s colors later on as an accent color. The lining of old graduation hoods suggests that the shade of blue used by the University was initially lighter than the current indigo, leading to a need for uniformity in the use of color.

It was unanimously voted by the Board that the colors of the American flag, known as ‘Old Glory,’ be adopted.” – Board of Trustees, January 16, 1894.

The current University colors were officially established by the Board of Trustees at their semi-annual meeting held on Tuesday, January 16, 1894, at 3 p.m. The minutes of this Board of Trustees meeting recorded the following decision:

“A communication was received from members of the Medical Department suggesting certain colors for the University in order to have uniformity. It was unanimously voted by the Board that the colors of the American flag, known as ‘Old Glory,’ be adopted.

Throughout the decades, the red was added and removed, depending on the taste of the president at the time.

Today, the University’s colors are used in official regalia, University logos, merchandise, and more. The palette has expanded beyond the indigo blue, red, and white to include a secondary palette of colors including yellow and pewter, among others. While the blue has always remained a shade of indigo, it was updated in the 2015/2016; for design fanatics, the specific codes were pms 2757 to pms 2965. The HTML hex codes for the University’s full color palette can be found at the Office of University Communications website.