The empowering message behind Pantone's color of the year


Pantone unveiled its 2018 color of the year Thursday, and the choice strongly hinted at a call for activism and action.

The company chose a deep shade of purple known as Pantone 18-3838, or "ultra violet," and although it didn't directly call out the current political climate, the color comes loaded with meaning.

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Pantone hailed the color choice for its spirituality and connection to the cosmos, along with its symbolism of counterculture and unconventionality.  But the color goes even further with its ties to women's suffrage movements and LGBTQ rights. This isn't just any shade of purple. 

Suffragettes were known for the purple on their sashes and the fight for LGBTQ equality has been using purple in campaigns over the years. An entire women's rights advocacy group, UltraViolet, borrows the associations of the color with women's and LGBTQ rights movements. 

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Pride march in New York City
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Pride march in New York City
Participants take part in the LGBT Pride March in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., June 25, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Participants take part in a "die in" during the LGBT Pride March in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S. June 25, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Participants take part in the LGBT Pride March in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., June 25, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Participants take part in the LGBT Pride March in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., June 25, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
People watch as participants take part in the LGBT Pride March in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., June 25, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
A boy carries a rainbow flag near The Stonewall Inn, on the eve of the LGBT Pride March, in the Greenwich Village section of New York City, U.S. June 24, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: People march down 5th Ave. in the annual New York Gay Pride Parade, one of the oldest and largest in the world on June 25, 2017 in New York City. Thouands cheered as members of LGBT community danced and marched under a bright summer sun. Many participants carried political themed signs as President Trump's adminstration has angered some in the LGBT community. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: Participants in the annual New York Gay Pride Parade, one of the oldest and largest in the world, march in the West Village in Manhattan on June 25, 2017 in New York City. Thouands cheered as members of LGBT community danced and marched under a bright summer sun. Many participants carried political themed signs as President Trump's adminstration has angered some in the LGBT community. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio walks alongside parade-goers as they make their way down 5th Avenue during the NYC Pride March on June 25, 2017. The NYC Pride March celebrates its 48th annual parade . / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: Participants in the annual New York Gay Pride Parade, one of the oldest and largest in the world, make their way down 5th Avenue in Manhattan on June 25, 2017 in New York City. Thouands cheered as members of LGBT community danced and marched under a bright summer sun. Many participants carried political themed signs as President Trump's adminstration has angered some in the LGBT community. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: Participants in the annual New York Gay Pride Parade, one of the oldest and largest in the world, march in the West Village in Manhattan on June 25, 2017 in New York City. Thouands cheered as members of LGBT community danced and marched under a bright summer sun. Many participants carried political themed signs as President Trump's adminstration has angered some in the LGBT community. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: Participants in the annual New York Gay Pride Parade, one of the oldest and largest in the world, make their way down 5th Avenue in Manhattan on June 25, 2017 in New York City. Thouands cheered as members of LGBT community danced and marched under a bright summer sun. Many participants carried political themed signs as President Trump's adminstration has angered some in the LGBT community. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: Participants in the annual New York Gay Pride Parade, one of the oldest and largest in the world, make their way down 5th Avenue in Manhattan on June 25, 2017 in New York City. Thouands cheered as members of LGBT community danced and marched under a bright summer sun. Many participants carried political themed signs as President Trump's adminstration has angered some in the LGBT community. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: People cheer for marchers walking down 5th Ave. in the annual New York Gay Pride Parade, one of the oldest and largest in the world on June 25, 2017 in New York City. Thouands cheered as members of LGBT community danced and marched under a bright summer sun. Many participants carried political themed signs as President Trump's adminstration has angered some in the LGBT community. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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Karin Rowland, chief campaigns officer for UltraViolet, said in a phone call Thursday that Pantone's choice is more than timely.

"The color has a lot of resonance now," she said, referring to the fight for women's equality and issues about sexual assault and harassment.

Before Fox News fired longtime host Bill O'Reilly earlier this year, the group protested at company headquarters. The demonstrators' signs included the signature ultra violet hue — highlighting the word "sexual predator."

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Women who have accused high-profile men of sexual misconduct
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Women who have accused high-profile men of sexual misconduct
Beverly Nelson (L) shows a school year book with attorney Gloria Allread during a news conference announcing new allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Republican congressional candidate Roy Moore, in New York, November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Gloria Thacker Deason came forward via the Washington Post with allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Wendy Miller came forward via the Washington Post with allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Debbie Wesson Gibson came forward via the Washington Post with allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Gena Richardson came forward via the Washington Post with allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Former staffer Marion Brown has accused Democratic Rep. John Conyers of sexual misconduct.
Leeann Tweeden came out with accusations of groping against Democratic Sen. Al Franken.
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Within the LGBTQ community, purple or lavender is significant. It's used in literature, pop culture, and throughout communication networks.

The since-closed Ultra Violet Book Cafe in Johannesburg, South Africa, served as a hub for the gay community there and was the first LGBT bookstore in South Africa. A newsletter for lesbian and gay liberationists was named "UltraViolet."The newsletter's website says "UltraViolet" was chosen because it's "the invisible fringe of the rainbow."

Women's suffrage movements in the early 1900s used the vibrant color in logos and banners. The National Woman's Party at the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C., has written about the significance and pervasiveness of purple in the movement.

Purple outfits were "worn by groups of women to make a visual impact and a political statement" and purple, along with white and gold, became associated with the suffragettes. One issue of the Suffragist from 1913 noted the significance of the color: "Purple is the color of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause."

With the #MeToo movement and the growing lists of women speaking out about sexual abuse and harassment from powerful men, it seems more than fitting that ultra violet is the color of 2018. Its scientific properties are also symbolic. As Rowland from UltraViolet explained, "It exposes things you wouldn’t normally be able to see under normal light."

Laurie Pressman from the Pantone Color Institute summed it up best, "It's truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today." 

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