Thoughts on State Colors

Until very recently, I assumed all 50 states had official state colors. Nope. Not even close. California has had official state colors since 1951 (and unofficially since 1875). Blue represents our beautiful sky and Gold represents the mineral that caused everyone to rush here in 1849, leading to statehood in 1850. Blue and Gold could just as easily represent the blue of our oceans and our golden hills. Together, these colors have always meant California to me.

Shockingly (to me anyway), only 13 states have official state colors. They include: California, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Indiana, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Delaware. They are colored green on the map below. 

The states marked in yellow (Wyoming, Minnesota, Vermont, and New Hampshire) proposed the state colors shown, but the measures failed. Three other states (Ohio, New York, and Maryland), marked with pink, have unofficial colors that are used in state branding. 

Blue and Gold are so integral to California that I have a hard time understanding how so many states have not adopted state colors. On the other hand, I imagine that choosing colors could lead to two problems: similarity or unnecessary controversy. 

Look at the states that do have official colors. There's a lot of blue and gold. And many other states could make a good case for adopting blue and gold as well. Just like California, Alaska has blue skies and a major Gold Rush. Nebraska has its blue skies and golden wheat fields. Kansas, the Sunflower State, has huge blue skies and fields of golden flowers. If a majority of states choose the same official colors, what's the point of having them at all?

Minnesota's failed attempt to declare purple their state color demonstrates the potential controversy that comes from trying to get a bunch of legislators, each representing thousands of constituents, to agree on something that ultimately doesn't matter. Some were adamant that purple (representing both the artist Prince and the Minnesota Vikings) was the perfect choice, while others pointed out that Minnesota already has two named colors and that these represent the timeless beauty of Minnesota rather than modern culture. Perhaps most states are avoiding the inevitable fighting that would come with prioritizing one facet of their state over another. 

Like most things, it's more complicated than it appears at first glance. 

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