7 Things You Did Not Know About Marcus Garvey

Source - Jamaican.Com

Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), Jamaica’s first National Hero, was the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), the largest Black empowerment movement of the twentieth century. Founded on August 1914 in Kingston, Jamaica, with only a few members, Garvey oversaw the growth of the UNIA, which by August 1925 with headquarters in Harlem, New York, had over eight million followers with 900 branches in 40 different countries.

The phenomenal growth of the UNIA was due in part not only to Garvey’s genius and magnetic personality but also to the principles of which he founded the UNIA.

  • Redemption

In 1910, when Marcus Garvey, who would later be called “Black Moses,” left Jamaica for the first time, he travelled through Central and South America and then, to England where he witnessed firsthand the widespread degradation of Black people. On his return to Jamaica aboard the SS Trent, Garvey would be further disheartened when a fellow traveler related “horrible and pitiable tales of native life in Africa.” Fortified by his readings of Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington, Garvey vowed that the Black man “would not continue to be kicked about, as I had seen in Central America, and as I read of it in America.” Then, in a moment that would change the course of history, Garvey asked himself, “Where is the black man’s government? Where is his King and his kingdom? Where is his President, his country, his men of big affairs? I could not find them, and then I declared, I will help to make them.”

Redemption of “Africans at home and abroad” would become the singular cause that would transform Garvey’s life: “We shall march out, yes, as black American citizens, as black British subjects, as black French citizens, as black Italians or as black Spaniards, but we shall march out with a greater loyalty, the loyalty of race. We shall march out in answer to the cry of our fathers, who cry out to us for the redemption of our own country, our motherland, Africa.” (Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey)

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Marcus Garvey’s Africa

By Dan Magaziner

The historian Robert Vinson explores Garvey's influence in South Africa in the 1920s and 1930s.

I have had the opportunity to review the College of William and Mary History Professor Robert Vinson’s remarkable new book, The Americans Are Coming! Dreams of African American Liberation in Segregationist South Africa. Vinson details both physical and intellectual journeys between South Africa and the United States in the decades before apartheid. His characters are sailors and preachers, political leaders, teachers and conmen.

His work reveals the intellectual history of the African diaspora during critical years that saw the tightening of white supremacy, massive dislocation and urbanization and remarkable political creativity in both the United States and South Africa. Over the course of February, Vinson and I exchanged emails about his book, beginning with a discussion about the man who was perhaps the era’s most important black political leader, Marcus Garvey.

How was Marcus Garvey important in African history?

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Marcus Garvey and the Afrikan Revolution in the 21st century

Source - pambazuka.org 

This paper deals with the meaning of Mwalimu Marcus Garvey and the Afrikan Revolution in the 21st century. Mwalimu Garvey is without doubt one of the most important figures of the Afrikan Revolution in the last 50 years and today, more than 70 years after his passing, his mission of total and unapologetic independence for the Black race, remains unfinished.

In order to argue this conclusion, we will reflect on critical moments in Black radical resistance that occurred during the month of August, provide a biographical sketch of who Garvey was, what his contribution was to the upliftment of the Black race, reflect on the challenges he encountered, what is his legacy and what are the implications of his work for the advancement of the Afrikan Revolution today.

1. Opening remarks

  • Egameni ledelakufa, Inkosi uMpolekeng Jantjie. Camagu!
  • Egameni ledelakufa, Inkosi uGalemidiwe Galeshewe. Camagu!
  • Egameni ledelakufa, Inkosi uToto Mokgolowe. Camagu!
  • Egameni ledeluka, uPhakamile Mabija.  Camagu!
  • Egameni ledekafuka, uMmereki Morebudi. Camagu!
  • Egameni ledelakufa, uHutse Segolodi. Camagu!
  • Egameni ledelakufa, uAndries Tatane. Camagu!   
  • Egameni ledelakufa, uNqobile Nzuza. Camagu!
  • Egameni lomfowethu, uJan Rivombo. Camagu!
  • Egameni ledelakufa,uSikhosiphi Rhadebe. Camagu!
  • Egameni likadedawethu, uAlem Dechasa. Camagu!
  • Egameni ledelakufa, uMgcineni Noki. Camagu!
  • Egameni lomfowethu, uMatlhomola Mosweu. Camagu!
  • Emagameni abodadebethu nabafowethu abashona eLife Esidemini. Camagu!
  • Egameni likaKumkanikazi uMam’uZondeni Sobukwe. Camagu!

Camagwini maAfrika!

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Marcus Garvey’s Vision of Pan-Africanism

Source - By Rupert Lewis -

This is an excerpt from Rupert Lewis’s Marcus Garvey (University of the West Indies Press, 2017). The book is part of the University of the West Indies Press’s Caribbean Biography series, which celebrates and memorializes the stalwarts and defenders of Caribbean identity. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission.

Marcus Garvey left Jamaica in 1935 with colonial state officials in panic at the number of disturbances occurring in the country. During the 1935 election campaign, the Riot Act had to be read in one rural parish, labour organizations had sprung up among the workers and the unemployed, and “white candidates were physically assaulted.” The storm clouds of unrest were gathering.

A weekly newspaper known as Plain Talk had started publication at the printery which had earlier published Garvey’s newspapers and pamphlets. Plain Talk had started out gingerly by supporting progressive politicians in the Jamaica legislature and reporting on the activities of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Jamaica. However, it got caught up in the forward movement of agricultural and industrial labour in the Caribbean and had to grow apace. Plain Talk’s development owed much to the Ethiopian cause and it played the leading journalistic role in promoting the cause of Ethiopian sovereignty in the British Caribbean.

One of the important political documents published in Plain Talk (11 and 18 September 1937) came from the International African Service bureau and was signed by George Padmore of Trinidad and Wallace Johnson of Sierra Leone; it was a memorandum to the West Indies Commission investigating the strike among the oilfield workers in Trinidad. The memorandum started out by stating the political position of the bureau:

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Marcus Garvey’s Legend, its Influence, Accomplishments, and Effects on the Rastafarian Movement and Reggae Musicians Meredith Parmett

A race without authority and power is a race without respect." Marcus Mosiah Garvey


Marcus Mosiah Garvey was a man that lived a life with a mission. Although his journey may have seemed impossible, his never-ending strength and dedication caused many people’s dreams and wishes to become realities. Garvey is considered a prophet by his followers, because of the inspiration he brought to the black race. He took a group of people that thought they had no place in this world and united them together which gave them pride in their race.

He also had a tremendous effect on the creation of Rastafarianism. Even though he could not find enough support for his movement to succeed in Jamaica, Garvey gave Rasta’s the guidance they needed to rise above their oppressors which led them to create a movement for the black race in Jamaica. When Marcus Mosiah Garvey passed away his words were not forgotten. His message is still alive in reggae music and his actions have greatly impacted the black race.


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Marcus Garvey, "The Negro Moses"

Source - Robert A. Hill – University of California, Los Angeles - 

Marcus Garvey is regarded as the leader of the largest organized mass movement in black history and the progenitor of the modern Black Is Beautiful revival that reached its apogee in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States. Hailed by his followers in the 1920s as a kind of political redeemer and dubbed “the Negro Moses,” Garvey has continued to fascinate writers and commentators as well as scholars and researchers.

Although there is today of plethora of scholarly research for students to draw upon, the problem of interpreting Garvey and his movement is still as challenging as it ever was. And yet simply collecting more and more data might not provide answers to the questions that people have always asked. Was Garvey sincere? Did Garvey, in his espousal of the repatriation of blacks to Africa, forsake the rights of African Americans in America? Were his ventures, such as the Black Star Line and the Negro Factories Corporation, honest? Perhaps it is the way the questions have been framed that constitutes a major part of the problem. It is time to start asking a different set of questions and stop looking for answers to old questions.

Although Garvey obviously failed to realize many of his objectives, such as the creation of an African empire or the establishment of a sovereign black state in Africa or an international black economy, he was responsible for putting forward ideas that helped to advance the political consciousness of blacks worldwide. The important psychological liberation from the bondage of racial inferiority that Garvey helped to break (and that Bob Marley sings about in his music) stands as a living, breathing testament to the breadth and depth of the movement he created and its lasting historical significance.

Early Days and Travels

Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born on August 17, 1887, in the tiny seaside town of St. Ann’s Bay on the north coast of Jamaica. As a young man he was apprenticed to a printer and learned the skill of a compositor. He left school at fourteen and eventually moved to the capital of Kingston, where he worked as a printer; at the same time, he patiently acquired the skills of public speaking and participated in debating and elocution contests.

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Marcus Garvey Presents His “Back to Africa” Program in New York This Day in 1920

Source - Face 2 Face Africa - 

In 1920, the late Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. presented his famous “Back to Africa” program in New York City. The program encouraged the black community living abroad as slaves to return to their homelands in Africa.

It was part of a social movement dubbed the “Universal Negro Improvement Association” (UNIA), which was founded by Garvey in his native Jamaica in 1914. Through this movement, the celebrated Jamaican political leader intensified black enslavement and racial discrimination sentiments.

Upon his immigration to the United States in 1917, Garvey embarked on a mission to spread his “Back to Africa” mantra, despite frequent backlash from the black middle and professional classes.

“I have no desire to take all black people back to Africa; there are blacks who are no good here and will likewise be no good there,” Marcus Garvey told his critics.

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Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. Du Bois

African Americans at the start of the 1920s were struggling to overcome racial barriers. W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey were two influential black political leaders of the 1920s. The two men came from separate backgrounds, which subsequently led to their differing outlooks on the destiny of the African American race. Their ideas often differed from other black leaders.

DuBois’s affiliation with the NAACP attempted to solve the problem through integration. Garvey’s UNIA centered around the idea of blacks helping blacks, attempting to relieve blacks of any dependence on whites. Both men had a lasting impact on generations to come.

The beliefs of W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey, as influenced by their background, had a profound effect on their life work, including the organizations they were involved with and the type of people they attracted. DuBois came from a more privileged background.

His life work centered on improving the condition of African Americans, but he wanted to do this by working with liberal whites through the NAACP. His following attracted mostly upper class and intellectual blacks. He concentrated on the talented tenth, the most talented and intelligent African Americans.

This alienated poorer blacks, who turned instead to Marcus Garvey. Garvey grew up in an impoverished Jamaican community. After minimal schooling, he traveled around Latin America and eventually ended up in England. Here, he embraced the ideas of the Pan African Movement. These ideas were the groundwork for the organization he founded, the UNIA. He attracted working class blacks, who formed a devoted following of the man and his ideas.

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The Life and Theories of Marcus Garvey

The 1920’s were a period of struggle for African-Americans. Slavery was abolished, but blacks were still oppressed and were in no way equal to whites. However, at this time blacks were starting to make some progress toward racial equality. The Harlem renaissance started the first real sense of African-American culture through art, jazz, dance, and literature.

There was also at this time the beginning of strong African-American movements to further the black race. A prominent movement was led by W.E.B Dubois that focused on educating blacks to create equality. On the other end of the political spectrum was Marcus Garvey, who led the movement for blacks to unite as a race against oppression. Marcus Garvey’s background had a strong impact on his beliefs, which acted as a catalyst for his life’s work. Garvey’s involvement had a strong influence on the black population and the African-American civil rights movement of the 1920’s.

Marcus Garvey was born and raised in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. Garvey wasn’t aware of any racial segregation during his young life. Garvey was raised in segregation of whites and blacks, but he had a few white childhood friends. However, at age 14, Garvey was called "nigger" by one of his white friends and was told that his white friends were not allowed to see him anymore (Sewell 18). This was his first taste of racism; Garvey’s eyes were opened to all of the racism surrounding him.

After that, he was no longer close to any white people, and racism and inequality became prevalent forces in Garvey’s life. St. Ann’s Bay was an impoverished town made up of peasants (Stein 24). Garvey’s parents were intellectuals, but there was no work for them in the industrial country of Jamaica. The Garveys were forced to work as laborers. Marcus and his sister, Indiana, were also forced to work in order for the family to have enough money to survive. Garvey had to quit school and begin working when he was 14 (Sewell 18).

By 1910, Garvey had made a name for himself in Jamaica as an accomplished printer, writer and politician. Garvey joined The National Club, the first organization in Jamaica which introduced anti-colonial thinking into Jamaica (Sewell 21). The inequality that Marcus Garvey encountered in the world outside of lower school in Jamaica was full of inequality and hatred for the black man. Garvey decided to leave Jamaica to see if blacks were treated the same way in other countries. Garvey spent the next two years, from 1910-1912, traveling around Central America experiencing the black condition in several countries (Sewell 18).

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Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association

Source David Van Leeuwen - National Humanities Center -  http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org -

Marcus Garvey and his organization, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), represent the largest mass movement in African-American history. Proclaiming a black nationalist "Back to Africa" message, Garvey and the UNIA established 700 branches in thirty-eight states by the early 1920s. While chapters existed in the larger urban areas such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, Garvey's message reached into small towns across the country as well. Later groups such as Father Divine's Universal Peace Mission Movement and the Nation of Islam drew members and philosophy from Garvey's organization, and the UNIA's appeal and influence were felt not only in America but in Canada, the Caribbean, and throughout Africa.

Considering the strong political and economic black nationalism of Garvey's movement, it may seem odd to include an essay on him in a Web site on religion in America. However, his philosophy and organization had a rich religious component that he blended with the political and economic aspects. Garvey himself claimed that his "Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World," along with the Bible, served as "the Holy Writ for our Negro Race." He stated very clearly that "as we pray to Almighty God to save us through his Holy Words so shall we with confidence in ourselves follow the sentiment of the Declaration of Rights and carve our way to liberty." For Garvey, it was no less than the will of God for black people to be free to determine their own destiny. His organization took as its motto "One God! One Aim! One Destiny!" and looked to the literal fulfillment of Psalm 68:31: "Princes shall come out of Egypt: Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth her hands unto God."

Garvey was born in 1887 in St. Anne's Bay, Jamaica. Due to the economic hardship of his family, he left school at age fourteen and learned the printing and newspaper business. He became interested in politics and soon got involved in projects aimed at helping those on the bottom of society. Unsatisfied with his work, he travelled to London in 1912 and stayed in England for two years. During this time he paid close attention to the controversy between Ireland and England concerning Ireland's independence. He was also exposed to the ideas and writings of a group of black colonial writers that came together in London around the African Times and Orient Review. Nationalism in both Ireland and Africa along with ideas such as race conservation undoubtedly had an impact on Garvey.

However, he later remembered that the most influential experience of his stay in London was reading Booker T. Washington's autobiography Up From Slavery. Washington believed African Americans needed to improve themselves first, showing whites in America that they deserved equal rights. Although politically involved behind the scenes, Washington repeatedly claimed that African Americans would not benefit from political activism and started an industrial training school in Alabama that embodied his own philosophy of self-help. Garvey embraced Washington's ideas and returned to Jamaica in 1914 to found the UNIA with the motto "One God! One Aim! One Destiny!"

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Marcus Garvey Biography 1887–1940

Source - History Channel  Marcus Garvey was a proponent of the Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism movements, inspiring the Nation of Islam and the Rastafarian movement. Who Was Marcus Garvey? Born in Jamaica, Marcus Garvey was an orator for the Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism movements, to which end he founded the Universal Negro Improv...
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