Marcus Garvey

Topics: Black people, African American, Negro / Pages: 40 (9769 words) / Published: Jan 27th, 2013
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, 1887-1940

Marcus Garvey remains a vitalising, inspiring force today. He touches Jamaicans closely because he raises questions of race and social commitment with which they still have to come to terms. His message is as relevant now as it was in the 1920s and 1930s, when he formed the People’s Political Party. As an independent and predominantly black nation, Jamaicans now have the power to reach decisions on issues he raised. A study of his life and times shows that he has been urging us to assume a larger role in the scheme of things. He has deepened and enriched our knowledge of ourselves, of our past and our potential as a society. We become aware, also, of a prophet, a man who throughout his life lived his message; and did so through triumph and disaster, in the face of derision and oppression, of imprisonment and of rejection. From the beginning he was driven by a passionate concern for the African-Jamaican people, and indeed for all peoples of African origin throughout the world. He reminded African-Americans of their background of slavery and of having been let loose in the world without a cent in their pocket or land to settle on that they could call their own. From the beginning they had to fight their own way up to where they are today. Some have done well but the great majority remained propertyless and almost helpless. If they were to improve themselves they had to focus on personal success. In revering Marcus Garvey as a national hero, Jamaicans pay tribute also to a leader who pioneered a role for Africa and Africans in world affairs. His vision was of black United Nations governed by black leaders. Garvey had a profound respect for books, education and scholarship. He was a philosopher as well as a man of action, a thinker who arrived at his conclusions by analysing the West Indian experience. He grew up in Jamaican colonial society at a time when, as Rupert Lewis points out:

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