“Speak, Garvey, Speak!”A Follower Recalls a Garvey Rally
The Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey, a brilliant orator and black nationalist leader, turned his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) into the most important black organization in the United States in the early 1920s. Garvey’s speeches often drew huge audiences, and stories of Garvey’s stubborn resistance in the face of white hostility proliferated among his supporters. In an oral history interview, devotee Audley Moore remembered the Jamaican’s defiant behavior at a rally in New Orleans caused “the [white] police [to] file out . . . like little puppy dogs with their tails behind them.” She proudly recalled the crowd intimidating the police by raising their guns and chanting “speak, Garvey, speak.”
Listen to Audio: Queen Mother Audley Moore: They didn’t want Garvey to speak in New Orleans. We had a delegation to go to the mayor, and the next night, they allowed him to come. And we all was armed. Everybody had bags of ammunition, too. So when Garvey came in, we applauded, and the police were lined man to man along the line of each bench. So Mr. Garvey said, “My friends, I want to apologize for not speaking to you last night. But the reason I didn’t was because the mayor of the city of New Orleans committed himself to act as a stooge for the police department to prevent me from speaking.” And the police jumped up and said, “I’ll run you in.”When he did this, everybody jumped up on the benches and pulled out their guns and just held the guns up in the air and said, “Speak, Garvey, speak.”And Garvey said, “As I was saying,” and he went on and repeated what he had said before, and the police filed out the hall like little puppy dogs with their tails behind them. So that was radical enough. I had two guns with me, one in my bosom and one in my pocketbook, little 38 specials.
Source: Interview done by the Oral History of the American Left, Tamiment Library, NYU for the public radio program Grandma Was An Activist, producers Charlie Potter and Beth Friend.
THE VIEWS OF AFRICAN SOCIALIST ABOUT GARVEY-
Marcus Garvey Lives! Legacy Carried Forward by the ASI
Posted by Enaemaehkiw Túpac Keshena
Today, August 17, is the birthday of Marcus Garvey, one of the most important anti-imperialist leaders of the last 150 years. In celebration I am reposting the following article from the August 2006 issue of The Burning Spear Newspaper, the organ of the African People’s Socialist Party.
Each August, growing numbers of Africans around the world celebrate the birth of Marcus Mosiah Garvey who was born on August 17, 1887 in St. Ann’s Bay, Saint Ann, Jamaica.
The celebration of Garvey’s birth date is due to the fact that since the attack on Africa that led to the capture, dispersal and enslavement of millions of Africans and the colonization and balkanization of Africa, no African has been more instrumental in creating the vision of a free and liberated Africa and African people. No African has been more successful in setting the example for organized resistance that would result in the liberation and unification of Africa and African people everywhere.
Garvey, more than anyone, contributed to the ideas advancing the existence of African people as a dispersed nation to be liberated from imperialism and served by our own all-African government in Africa.
In 1914, Garvey organized the Universal Negro Improvement Association in Jamaica. At the time, the UNIA was conceived as a fraternal reform association that would work for the upliftment of African people through the creation of educational institutions and industrial opportunities. However, it was only after his location to Harlem in 1916 that the organization began to achieve rapid growth.
By 1920, there were more than a thousand UNIA branches and divisions around the world. In August of 1920 at its first convention, held in Madison Square Garden in New York, more than 25,000 Africans from Africa and virtually everywhere else Africans had been forcibly dispersed, came together in a month-long display of unity and organization never before witnessed by Africans or anyone else.
The UNIA, which would become the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, was comprised of members and followers who were mostly working class. This was one of the most important reasons for its strength, estimated at being from 6 to 11 million members and followers, and also one of the reasons it was greatly feared and hated by various imperialist governments and significant sectors of African middle class leadership, most of which saw assimilation into U.S. imperialist society as the only way to achieve their aspirations.
Garvey Makes Incredible Accomplishment in Building Steamship Line
In 1919, the UNIA founded the Black Star Line Steamship Corporation. This was one of several ventures that included the Universal Printing House, the Negro Factories Corporation, and the Negro World Newspaper, printed in three languages.
Marcus Garvey built a single internationl economic capacity for African people in the eraly 1900s that has not yet been duplicated. This was on of the many aspect of Garvey’s work to consolidate a single African nation.
All of these were among the efforts to create an economy around which the oppressed and dispersed African nation would be organized. Central to these efforts was the Black Star Line that was to initiate trade between Africans worldwide.
The Black Star Line venture failed because of a number of factors including inexperience on the part of Garvey and the UNIA. And, while the ineptitude of Garvey and the UNIA is something all his detractors, then and now, love to expound on as being the reason for the failure of the Black Star Line, this explanation overlooks the fact that this was not the primary reason for its failure. It also overlooks the significance of the creation of the Black Star Line.
The fact is that Garvey and the UNIA built a steam ship line in 1919 when almost the whole African world lived under white colonial domination, the exceptions being the nominal independence of Liberia and Ethiopia. Additionally, this was only a little more than 50 years after the formal emancipation of enslaved Africans in the U.S. and during the year that was the bloodiest in post-emancipation America in terms of anti-African terror launched by whites in the U.S.
Clearly, this was not a sign of ineptitude. If anything, it was miraculous.
Also, the hostility of the U.S. and white society to African economic advancement during the period is revealed in the fact that only two years after the launching of the Black Star Line, the Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma was attacked and bombed, destroying it. Today no one claims that the destruction in Tulsa was due to the ineptitude of the African business people there.
No. Ineptitude was not the primary factor in the failure of the Black Star Line. The most critical factor in its failure was the active opposition and sabotage by the U.S. government, the white left, and the African petty bourgeoisie. The Communist Party USA worked tirelessly to undermine Garvey while the NAACP and W.E.B. Du Bois actively sought the support of the U.S. attorney general to acquire a ship that could be used to destroy the Black Star Line.
Along with the white left and African petty bourgeois active opposition, the Bureau of Investigation (precursor to the FBI), launched its own vicious campaign to rid the imperialist world of Marcus Garvey and the UNIA. In 1922, Garvey would be indicted by the U.S. government on contrived charges of using the mail to defraud through sale of the Black Star Line stock.
Though the charge was politically motivated and facilitated by agents who worked within the Black Star Line for the U.S. government, Garvey was tried and imprisoned in 1925. He spent two years in prison before being released and deported to Jamaica.
The movement that Garvey led would never be the same after his imprisonment and deportation. Agents and opportunists within the organization and enemies without were finally able to render the UNIA ineffective. Garvey, from his location in Jamaica and separated from the connections and membership in the U.S. — which was then becoming a major imperialist center — was unable to effectively defend the organization. On June 10, 1940, Marcus Mosiah Garvey died in relative obscurity in London, England.
Garvey Initiated Process of Creating a United, Liberated Africa that Influenced Other Oppressed Peoples’ Struggles
However, the legacy of Marcus Garvey lives today. And it should, despite the barrage of slander that had been unleashed against him when alive and despite the efforts by U.S. and European imperialists and African petty bourgeois liberals to erase him from history.
Garvey was not only the man who moved toward constructing a unifying national economy and a vision for African liberation, unification and redemption. He was also voted by oppressed Africans from around the world as the provisional president of Africa when Africa suffered under the book of direct white power colonialism.
Garvey began creating all the organizations and symbols of State power to be exercised by an independent African people. He initiated a process in Liberia, where he bought land and sent a construction expedition there that would create a beachhead from which the struggle to free Africa could be launched.
The great meetings of the Garvey movement at its Liberty Halls, especially in New York, would become of major interest to all imperialists. Not only were Africans from throughout the world, especially seamen, constantly visiting these meetings, but also other oppressed people and their developing leaders, such as Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh who regularly attended Garvey meetings.
The Negro World also became a major irritant to imperialists. During the period of the resistance to U.S. imperialism in Nicaragua during the 1920s, the Negro World became a means through which followers of the anti-imperialist Nicaraguan revolutionary leader Augusto Sandino would communicate and advance their ideas.
On August 13, 1920, the UNIA adopted the Declaration of Rights of The Negro Peoples of the World. The significance of this declaration resonates today, some 86 years later. Among the complaints laid out in the declaration is Point 3 which declares, “That European nations have parceled out among them and taken possession of nearly all of the continent of Africa, and the natives are compelled to surrender their lands to aliens and are treated in most instances like slaves.”
Among the rights advanced by the declaration is this one that declares, “that Negroes, wheresoever they form a community among themselves should be given the right to elect their own representatives to represent them in Legislatures, courts of law, or such institutions as may exercise control over that particular community…
“…We believe that the Negro should adopt every means to protect himself against barbarous practices inflicted upon him because of color…
“…We believe in the freedom of Africa for the Negro people of the world…
“…We strongly condemn the cupidity of those nations of the world who, by open aggression or secret schemes, have seized the territories and inexhaustible natural wealth of Africa, and we place on record our most solemn determination to reclaim the treasures and possession of the vast continent of our forefathers…
“…We believe in the self-determination of all peoples…
“…We demand complete control of our social institutions without interference by any alien race or races…
“…That the colors, Red, Black and Green, be the colors of the Negro race…
“…We proclaim the 31st day of August of each year to be an international holiday to be observed by all Negroes…
“…We want all men to know that we shall maintain and contend for the freedom and equality of every man, woman and child of our race, with our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor…”
These select quotes from the extensive declaration helps us to understand the significance of the vision and the organizational efforts of the movement founded and led by Marcus Garvey. They also help to explain why the legacy of Garvey is eternal.
Political Movement of Pan Africanism Born in Opposition to Garvey
Today, with the crisis-ridden imperial white power groaning in response to the efforts of the oppressed peoples of the world to free ourselves from its domination, more and more of the African middle class or petty bourgeoisie are also looking toward Africa and some form of African unity.
In many ways, this is similar to the time of Garvey when for a time the imperialists were engaged in the first imperialist war to divide the world among themselves and oppressed peoples everywhere were attempting to forge their own path to freedom from colonial domination.
The power of the Garvey legacy has resulted in an effort by some, especially petty bourgeois African liberals, to lump Garvey and Du Bois together as founding fathers of practical, political, Pan Africanism. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Garvey was not a Pan Africanist. In fact, Pan Africanism, as a political movement, was formed by Du Bois and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). It was founded in opposition to the Garvey movement and as part of the overall imperialist-led struggle that led to its demise.
Both Du Bois and Garvey were always clear that they were opponents. In a June 20, 1921 letter to the New York Age and quoted in Volume III of the Marcus Garvey Papers edited by Robert Hill, Du Bois writes, “Bishop Smith mingles the Pan African Congress and the Garvey movement as practically one idea. This is a grave mistake. The Pan African Congress has nothing to do with any ‘Africa for the Africa[ns]’ movement. The object of the Pan African Congress is simply to bring representatives of the various people of African descent into knowledge and common acquaintanceship, so that out of such conferences general policies and actions can be evolved…
“Many colored persons know this, but have been restrained by the Garvey movement. Mr. Garvey’s African program has been dangerous, ill-considered[,] impracticable, and for that reason the Pan African Congress has not invited him to participate. On the other hand we must be generous enough to give Mr. Garvey the credit of having foreseen the necessity of union in business and social uplift between all the African people. He is not the man to carry this out because he lacks poise and business ability…”
Garvey, quoted in the same book on page 583, introduced this resolution during his opening address at the August 1921 UNIA convention:
“Be it resolved: That we, the duly elected representatives of the Negro peoples of the world, from North America, South America, Central America, West Indies, Asia, Europe, Australia and Africa, assembled in open conclave on this day of August, 1921, at the 12th Regiment Armory, New York City, United States of America…do hereby place on record our repudiation of a Pan African Congress to be held in London, England…
“Our repudiation of this Congress, as representatives of the Negro peoples of the world, is based on the fact that W.E.B. Du Bois, secretary of the so-called Pan African Congress, and those associated with him, are not representatives of the struggling peoples of the world, and that the men who have called the said Congress have not consulted with the Negro peoples of the world of their intention, and have received no mandate from the said people to call a Congress in their name…
“That we believe the motives of the Congress are to undermine the true feeling and sentiment of the Negro race for complete freedom in their own spheres, and for a higher social order among themselves, as against a desire among a certain class of Negroes for social contact, comradeship and companionship with the white race…”
There is no confusion here, by either Du Bois or Garvey. Moreover, a careful reading of the statements from both men will reveal the class bias of each.
Du Bois, with his concern for Garvey’s lack of poise and his begrudging and cynical praise for Garvey’s recognition for “union in business,” speaks volumes of his class sympathies as does Garvey’s complaint that Du Bois and his cohorts “are not representatives of the struggling peoples of the world.”
The imprisonment and deportation of Garvey were necessary for the development of the Pan Africanist movement which, up to then, was simply a gathering of a handful of African intellectuals, some of whom, like Blaise Diagne in France, actually worked for imperialist governments.
With Garvey’s forced removal from the scene, many people joined the Pan Africanist movement out of confusion while some others, like Garvey’s wife Amy Jaques Garvey, joined in 1945 in an effort to advance the work of her late husband.
Garvey’s Work Continues on in the Work to Build the African Socialist International
We, of the African People’s Socialist Party, are African Internationalists, followers of Garvey who continue to develop his ideas to make them consistent with the times in which we live.
Our opposition to Pan Africanism is not opposition to the literal translation of the words, which simply mean “all-African.” Our opposition is to what Pan Africanism is as a political expression.
People like Du Bois, and later George Padmore, created Pan Africanism as something petty bourgeoisie in outlook, pacifist and parliamentarian in tactics and strategy, anti-communist and neocolonialist in worldview.
However, for most people, Pan Africanism is whatever its advocates want it to be. It is not a theory, so much as it is a belief in the solidarity of African people worldwide, without regard for issues of class or practical program to liberate and unite Africa and African people in a revolutionary struggle against imperialism.
There have been many brilliant, heroic Pan Africanists. They include giants like Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Walter Rodney and Mangaliso Sobukwe. However, most of the difficulties and disasters that destroyed these courageous leaders and their movements, Rodney being a possible exception, came as a result of their adherence to the Pan African values that came from Du Bois and Padmore.
We believe that the efforts to build the African Socialist International, a single organization of African revolutionaries committed to the struggle to liberate and unite Africa and African people under the leadership of the African working class and to create a socialist United States of Africa is Garveyism in the era of imperialism in crisis.
For the African People’s Socialist Party the celebration of the legacy of Garvey means that we should live like him and fight to accomplish his vision in our lifetime. We call on all others who would be like Garvey and who go beyond the annual process of paying homage to a deceased Garvey, to join us in building the ASI, our greatest testimony to the fact that Garvey lives!
A black nationalist, Marcus Garvey immigrated to Harlem in 1916. There he established Liberty Hall as headquarters for a movement that would grow to almost 2 million members.
Marcus Garvey in full uniform
Thought by many blacks to be another Moses, Marcus Garvey rose from humble beginnings in Jamaica, West Indies, to become the number one advocate of the “Back to Africa movement.”
He left school at sixteen and went to work as an apprentice printer, organizing the printing workers in Kingston, Jamaica.
In 1917, he came to America and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), whose major goal was to create a strong Negro Nation in Africa. By 1920, the UNIA claimed more than 1 million members. In August of that year, their International Convention was held in New York City, where 25,000 people gathered to hear Garvey speak.
In 1923, Garvey was charged with and found guilty of using the mail service to defraud in connection with his fundraising to buy ships for the return to Africa. While imprisoned he wrote his famous “First Message to the Negroes of the World from Atlanta Prison,” where he said: “Look to me in the whirlwind or the storm, look for me all around you, for, with God’s grace I shall come and bring with me countless millions of black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for liberty, freedom and life.”
Garvey died in 1940 in London, England. He was named Jamaica’s first national hero and buried in the National Heroes Park in Jamaica. This entry contributed by Curriculum Concepts International
Kenneth Jackson discusses Marcus Garvey Park and the man for whom it was named
Columbia University Professor of History Kenneth Jackson talks about Marcus Garvey Park, and the man for whom it was named.
Kellie Jones discusses Marcus Garvey Park
Kellie Jones, Columbia University Professor of Art History and Archeology, describes New York’s Marcus Garvey Park.
Current view of Marcus Garvey Memorial Park
The Marcus Garvey Memorial Park interrupts Fifth Avenue between 120th and 124th Streets. Its 70-foot hill offers a view of the site of Garvey’s Liberty Hall on West 138th Street.
Marcus Garvey in full uniform
A black nationalist, Marcus Garvey immigrated to Harlem in 1916. There he established Liberty Hall as headquarters for a movement that would grow to almost 2 million members.
Envelope for Donations to UNIA
This envelope calls for joining and contributing to the Universal Negro Improvement Association.
Advertisement for a UNIA Convention
A 1924 UNIA flyer announces “Biggest Negro Convention in the History of the World: Program for Big Conclave Outlined.”
Marcus Garvey and the Rise of Black Nationalism
Marcus Garvey and the Rise of Black Nationalism – 4th Grade Adaptation
Posted by Mark Wells on December 20, 2009 at 1:22pm in KNOWLEDGE IS KING!!!!
Back to KNOWLEDGE IS KING!!!! Discussions
A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., ONH (17 August 1887 – 10 June 1940), was a publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, Black Nationalist, Pan-Africanist, and orator. Marcus Garvey was founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL).
Prior to the twentieth century, leaders such as Prince Hall, Martin Delany, Edward Wilmot Blyden, and Henry Highland Garnet advocated the involvement of the African diaspora in African affairs. Garvey was unique in advancing a Pan-African philosophy to inspire a global mass movement focusing on Africa known as Garveyism. Promoted by the UNIA as a movement of African Redemption, Garveyism would eventually inspire others, ranging from the Nation of Islam, to the Rastafari movement (which proclaims Garvey as a prophet). The intention of the movement was for those of African ancestry to “redeem” Africa and for the European colonial powers to leave it. His essential ideas about Africa were stated in an editorial in the Negro World titled “African Fundamentalism” where he wrote:
“ Our union must know no clime, boundary, or nationality… let us hold together under all climes and in every country… ”
God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement.
Garvey was born in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, on 17 August 1887, to Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Sr., a mason, and Sarah Jane Richards, a domestic worker and farmer. Of eleven siblings, only Marcus and his sister Indiana reached maturity. Garvey’s father was known to have a large library, and it was from his father that Marcus gained his love for reading. Sometime in the year 1900, Garvey entered into an apprenticeship with his uncle, Alfred Burrowes. Like Garvey Sr., Burrowes had an extensive library, of which young Garvey made good use.When he was about fourteen, Garvey left St. Ann’s Bay for Kingston, where he found employment as a compositor in the printing house of P. A. Benjamin, Limited. He was a master printer and foreman at Benjamin when, in November 1907, he was elected vice-president of the Kingston Union. However, he was fired when he joined a strike by printers in late 1908. Having been blacklisted for his stance in the strike, he later found work at the Government Printing Office. In 1909, his newspaper The Watchman began publication, but it only lasted for three issues.
In 1910 Garvey left Jamaica and began traveling throughout the Central American region. He lived in Costa Rica for several months, where he worked as a time-keeper on a banana plantation. He began work as editor for a daily newspaper titled La Nacionale in 1911. Later that year, he moved to Colón, Panama, where he edited a biweekly newspaper before returning to Jamaica in 1912.
After years of working on the Caribbean, Garvey left Jamaica to live in London from 1912 to 1914, where he attended Birkbeck College, worked for the African Times and Orient Review, published by Dusé Mohamed Ali, and sometimes spoke at Hyde Park’s Speakers’ Corner.
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.
Founding and Projects of the UNIA-ACL
During his travels, Garvey became convinced that uniting Blacks was the only way to improve their condition. Towards that end, he departed England on 14 June 1914 aboard the S.S. Trent, reaching Jamaica on 15 July 1914. He founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in August 1914 as a means of uniting all of Africa and its diaspora into “one grand racial hierarchy.” Amy Ashwood, who would later be Garvey’s first wife, was among the founders. As the group’s first President-General, Garvey’s goal was “to unite all people of African ancestry of the world to one great body to establish a country and absolute government of their own.”
Following much reflection the following day and night about what he learned, he named the organization the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities (Imperial) League.”
After corresponding with Booker T. Washington, Garvey arrived in the U.S. on 23 March 1916 aboard the S.S. Tallac to give a lecture tour and to raise funds to establish a school in Jamaica modeled after Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. Garvey visited Tuskegee, and afterward, visited with a number of Black leaders. After moving to New York, he found work as a printer by day. He was influenced by Hubert Harrison. At night he would speak on street corners, much like he did in London’s Hyde Park. It was then that Garvey perceived a leadership vacuum among people of African ancestry. On 9 May 1916, he held his first public lecture in New York City at St Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery and undertook a 38-state speaking tour.
In May 1917, Garvey and thirteen others formed the first UNIA division outside Jamaica and began advancing ideas to promote social, political, and economic freedom for Blacks. On 2 July, the East St. Louis riots broke out. On July 8, Garvey delivered an address, titled “The Conspiracy of the East St. Louis Riots,” at Lafayette Hall in Harlem. During the speech, he declared the riot was “one of the bloodiest outrages against mankind.” By October, rancor within the UNIA had begun to set in. A split occurred in the Harlem division, with Garvey enlisted to become its leader; although he technically held the same position in Jamaica.
Garvey next set about the business of developing a program to improve the conditions of those of African ancestry “at home and abroad” under UNIA auspices. On 17 August 1918, publication of the widely distributed Negro World newspaper began. Garvey worked as an editor without pay until November 1920. By June 1919 the membership of the organization had grown to over two million.
On 27 June 1919, the Black Star Line of Delaware, was incorporated by the members of the UNIA with Garvey as President. By September, it obtained its first ship. Much fanfare surrounded the inspection of the S.S. Yarmouth and its rechristening as the S.S. Frederick Douglass on 14 September 1919. Such a rapid accomplishment garnered attention from many.
One person who noticed was Edwin P. Kilroe, Assistant District Attorney in the District Attorney’s office of the County of New York. Kilroe began an investigation into the activities of the UNIA, without finding any evidence of wrongdoing or mismanagement. After being called to Kilroe’s office numerous times, Garvey wrote an editorial on Kilroe’s activities for the Negro World. Garvey was arrested and indicted for criminal libel in relation to the article, but charges were dismissed after Garvey published a retraction.
While in his Harlem office at 56 West 156th Street on 14 October 1919, Garvey received a visit from George Tyler, who told him that Kilroe “had sent him” to get Garvey. Tyler then pulled a .38-caliber revolver and fired four shots, wounding Garvey in the right leg and scalp. Garvey was taken to the hospital and Tyler arrested. The next day, it was let out that Tyler had committed suicide by leaping from the third tier of the Harlem jail as he was being taken to his arraignment.
By August 1920, the UNIA claimed four million members. That month, the International Convention of the UNIA was held. With delegates from all over the world in attendance, over 25,000 people filled Madison Square Garden on 1 August to hear Garvey speak.
Another of Garvey’s ventures was the Negro Factories Corporation. His plan called for creating the infrastructure to manufacture every marketable commodity in every big U.S. industrial center, as well as in Central America, the West Indies, and Africa. Related endeavors included a grocery chain, restaurant, publishing house, and other businesses.
Convinced that Blacks should have a permanent homeland in Africa, Garvey sought to develop Liberia.
The Liberia program, launched in 1920, was intended to build colleges, universities, industrial plants, and railroads as part of an industrial base from which to operate. However, it was abandoned in the mid-1920s after much opposition from European powers with interests in Liberia. In response to suggestions that he wanted to take all Americans of African ancestry back to Africa, he wrote, “We do not want all the Negroes in Africa. Some are no good here, and naturally will be no good there.”
Garvey has been credited with creating the biggest movement of people of African descent. This movement that took place in the 1920s is said to have had more participation from people of African descent than the Civil Rights Movement. In essence the UNIA was the largest Pan-African movement.
Our success educationally, industrially and politically is based upon the protection of a nation founded by ourselves. And the nation can be nowhere else but in Africa.
Charge of mail fraud
In a memorandum dated 11 October 1919, J. Edgar Hoover, special assistant to the Attorney General, and head of the General Intelligence Division (or “anti-radical division”) of The Bureau of Investigation or BOI (after 1935, the Federal Bureau of Investigation), wrote a memorandum to Special Agent Ridgely regarding Marcus Garvey. In the memo, Hoover wrote that:
“ Unfortunately, however, he [Garvey] has not as yet violated any federal law whereby he could be proceeded against on the grounds of being an undesirable alien, from the point of view of deportation. ”
Sometime around November 1919 an investigation by the BOI was begun into the activities of Garvey and the UNIA. Toward this end, the BOI hired James Edward Amos, Arthur Lowell Brent, Thomas Leon Jefferson, James Wormley Jones, and Earl E. Titus as its first five African-American agents. Although initial efforts by the BOI were to find grounds upon which to deport Garvey as “an undesirable alien”, a charge of mail fraud was brought against Garvey in connection with stock sales of the Black Star Line after the U.S. Post Office and the Attorney General joined the investigation.
The accusation centered on the fact that the corporation had not yet purchased a ship with the name “Phyllis Wheatley”.[clarification needed] Although one was pictured with that name emblazoned on its bow on one of the company’s stock brochures, it had not actually been purchased by the BSL and still had the name “Orion”. The prosecution produced as evidence a single empty envelope which it claimed contained the brochure. During the trial, a man by the name of Benny Dancy testified that he didn’t remember what was in the envelope, although he regularly received brochures from the Black Star Line. Another witness for the prosecution, Schuyler Cargill, perjured himself after admitting[ to having been told to mention certain dates in his testimony by Chief Prosecutor Maxwell S. Mattuck. Furthermore, he admitted that he could not remember the names of any coworkers in the office, including the timekeeper who punched employees’ time cards. Ultimately, he acknowledged being told to lie by Postal Inspector F.E. Shea. He said Shea told him to state that he mailed letters containing the purportedly fraudulent brochures. The Black Star Line did own and operate several ships over the course of its history and was in the process of negotiating for the disputed ship at the time the charges were brought. Assistant District Attorney, Leo H. Healy, who was, before he became a District Attorney, attorney for Harris McGill and Co., the sellers of the first ship, the S. S. Yarmouth, to the Black Star Line Inc. was also a key witness for the government during the trial.
Of the four Black Star Line officers charged in connection with the enterprise, only Garvey was found guilty of using the mail service to defraud. His supporters called the trial fraudulent. While there were serious accounting irregularities within the Black Star Line and the claims he used to sell Black Star Line stock could be considered misleading, Garvey’s supporters still contest that the prosecution was a politically motivated miscarriage of justice, given the above-mentioned false statement testimony and Hoover’s explicit regret that Garvey had committed no crimes.
When the trial ended on 23 June 1923, Garvey had been sentenced to five years in prison. He initially spent three months in the Tombs Jail awaiting approval of bail. While on bail, he continued to maintain his innocence, travel, speak and organize the UNIA. After numerous attempts at appeal were unsuccessful, he was taken into custody and began serving his sentence at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary on 8 February 1925. Two days later, he penned his well known “First Message to the Negroes of the World From Atlanta Prison” wherein he makes his famous proclamation:
“ Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm, look for me all around you, for, with God’s grace, I shall come and bring with me countless millions of black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for Liberty, Freedom and Life. ”
Professor Judith Stein has stated, “his politics were on trial.”
Garvey’s sentence was eventually commuted by President Calvin Coolidge. Upon his release in November 1927, Garvey was deported via New Orleans to Jamaica, where a large crowd met him at Orrett’s Wharf in Kingston. A huge procession and band converged on UNIA headquarters.
The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.
While W. E. B. Du Bois expressed the Black Star Line was “original and promising,” he also said: “Marcus Garvey is, without doubt, the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America and in the world. He is either a lunatic or a traitor.”Du Bois feared that Garvey’s activities would undermine his efforts toward black rights.
Garvey suspected Du Bois was prejudiced against him because he was a Caribbean native with darker skin. Du Bois once described Marcus Garvey as “a little, fat black man; ugly, but with intelligent eyes and a big head.” Garvey called Du Bois “purely and simply a white man’s n*****” and “a little Dutch, a little French, a little Negro … a mulatto … a monstrosity.” This led to an acrimonious relationship between Garvey and the NAACP. Garvey accused Du Bois of paying conspirators to sabotage the Black Star Line to destroy his reputation.
At the National Conference of the Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1921 a Los Angeles delegate Noah Thompson spoke on the floor complaining on the lack of transparency in the group’s financial accounts. When accounts were prepared Thompson highlighted several sections with what he felt were irregularities.
Garvey recognized the influence of the Ku Klux Klan, and in early 1922, he went to Atlanta, Georgia for a conference with KKK imperial giant Edward Young Clarke.
According to Garvey, “I regard the Klan, the Anglo-Saxon clubs and White American societies, as far as the Negro is concerned, as better friends of the race than all other groups of hypocritical whites put together. I like honesty and fair play. You may call me a Klansman if you will, but, potentially, every white man is a Klansman, as far as the Negro in competition with whites socially, economically and politically is concerned, and there is no use lying.” Leo H. Healy publicly accused Garvey of being a member of the Ku Klux Klan in his testimony during the mail fraud trial.
After Garvey’s entente with the Ku Klux Klan, a number of African American leaders appealed to U.S. Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty to have Garvey incarcerated.
Although historians tend to side with Du Bois, Theodore Vincent’s “Black Power and the Garvey Movement” contends that, “Cronon and most other scholars dealing with Garvey have misunderstood their subject, and have written off as unimportant a man who founded a most significant movement for black freedom.” This book is devoted to dispelling “militant” criticism of Garvey from people like W. E. B. Du Bois.
There shall be no solution to this race problem until you, yourselves, strike the blow for liberty.
1928, Garvey travelled to Geneva to present the Petition of the Negro Race. This petition outlined the worldwide abuse of Africans to the League of Nations. In September 1929, he founded the People’s Political Party (PPP), Jamaica’s first modern political party, which focused on workers’ rights, education, and aid to the poor.
Also in 1929, Garvey was elected councilor for the Allman Town Division of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC). However, he lost his seat because of having to serve a prison sentence for contempt of court. But, in 1930, Garvey was re-elected, unopposed, along with two other PPP candidates.
In April 1931, Garvey launched the Edelweiss Amusement Company. He set the company up to help artists earn their livelihood from their craft. Several Jamaican entertainers — Kidd Harold, Ernest Cupidon, Bim & Bam, and Ranny Williams — went on to become popular after receiving initial exposure that the company gave them.
In 1935, Garvey left Jamaica for London. He lived and worked in London until his death in 1940. During these last five years, Garvey remained active and in touch with events in war-torn Ethiopia (then known as Abyssinia) and in the West Indies. In 1937, he wrote the poem Ras Nasibu Of Ogaden in honor of Ethiopian Army Commander (Ras) Nasibu Emmanual. In 1938, he gave evidence before the West Indian Royal Commission on conditions there. Also in 1938 he set up the School of African Philosophy in Toronto to train UNIA leaders. He continued to work on the magazine The Black Man.
In 1937, a group of Garvey’s American supporters called the Peace Movement of Ethiopia openly collaborated with Mississippi Senator Theodore Bilbo in the promotion of a repatriation scheme introduced in the US Congress as the Greater Liberia Act. In the Senate, Bilbo was a supporter of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Bilbo was an outspoken supporter of segregation and white supremacy and, attracted by the ideas of Black separatists like Garvey, Bilbo proposed an amendment to the federal work-relief bill on 6 June 1938, proposing to deport 12 million black Americans to Liberia at federal expense to relieve unemployment. He took the time to write a book titled Take Your Choice, Separation or Mongrelization, advocating the idea. Garvey praised him in return, saying that Bilbo had “done wonderfully well for the Negro”.
During this period, Evangeline Rondon Paterson the grandmother of the current (55th) Governor of New York, David Paterson served as his secretary.
n 10 June 1940, Garvey died after two strokes, putatively after reading a mistaken, and negative, obituary of himself in the Chicago Defender which stated, in part, that Garvey died “broke, alone and unpopular”. Because of travel conditions during World War II, he was interred at Kensal Green Cemetery in London. Rumours claimed that Garvey was in fact poisoned on a boat on which he was travelling and that was where and how he actually died.
In 1964, his remains were exhumed and taken to Jamaica. On 15 November 1964, the government of Jamaica, having proclaimed him Jamaica’s first national hero, re-interred him at a shrine in National Heroes Park.
The flag of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)