As symbols of unity among Carolina students, alumni, and fans, the school colors of light blue and white were first used around 1800 to distinguish between members of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Literary Societies. Throughout the nineteenth century, students were required to be members of either the Di or the Phi. The Di’s color was light blue, and the Phi’s was white.
At University commencements, balls, and other social events, the student officials, managers, and marshals wore the color of their society, blue or white. Because the Chief Marshal or Chief Ball Manager represented the whole student body, not just his society, he wore both colors.
When the University fielded its first intercollegiate athletic teams in 1888, the question of what colors to wear had already been answered. Light blue and white had come to symbolize membership in the University, not in a single society.
Light blue and white have been considered the University’s colors for well over a century. With the tradition so firmly established, a popular bumper sticker states that God must be a Tar Heel because he made the sky Carolina Blue!