Marcus Garvey

Topics: Marcus Garvey, Black people, African American Pages: 6 (2166 words) Published: August 3, 2013
How can Marcus Garvey be given more prominence in Jamaican context other than at National Heroes Day?

Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887-1940)

Marcus Garvey was born on 17th August 1887 in the small rural town of St. Ann’s Bay. He was from a large, poor family of which he was the last of eleven children. His father worked as a stone mason and his mother baked and sold cakes. His parents were devout Christians and encouraged their children along the path of the Christian religion. They also encouraged them to read. He was christened Malcus Mosiah Garvey but later assumed the name Marcus Mosiah Garvey. He spent his early years under the influence of two self educated men. The first one was his father, Malcus Mosiah Garvey, and his Godfather Alfred E. Borrowes. From these two men Marcus learnt many positive values which helped to shape the man he became.

Leaving school at fourteen years old, he went to work in his Godfather’s printery. Attending school in Jamaica taught Garvey that colonial Jamaica’s education system was weighted against black children. During his years as a printer’s apprentice he learnt many skills but the most important lesson Garvey learnt was the power of the press and would later use the press to mobilize people of African decent to a clearer understanding of their black heritage.

Garvey traveled to many places including Central America, Bocas del Toro, Nicaragua, Honduras and London. During his travel Garvey saw the injustice that was practiced towards people of colour. A lot of people inspired and mentored Garvey, one such man was Robert Love. Love taught Garvey the art of speaking fluently and also shared his views about pride in his race and challenged colonialist prejudices. During his stay in Britain Garvey developed the idea of one great international organization of black people, educated, financially independent, having pride in themselves and as black people would take their rightful place in society. These were the words he spoke to explain his vision. “I saw before me even as I do now, a new world of black men, not peons, serfs, dogs and slaves, but a nation of sturdy men making their impress upon civilization and causing a new light to dawn upon the human race”.

Garvey returned to Jamaica in 1914 and in August which was emancipation day, he launched the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). The aim of this organization was to campaign for equal rights and economic independence for black people and to create a united Africa to which one day they might one day return. Garvey’s slogan was, “Up! Up! You mighty people, you can accomplish what you will”. The U.N.I.A. flag was of red, black and green. Each colour had a significant meaning; red represented the blood of the race nobly shed in the past and dedicated to the future; black for pride and colour of the skin; green for a promise of a better life in Africa. He started a newspaper called the Negro World which was first published on 17th August 1918. The Negro World was also used to garner support for the movement, and so theUNIA grew rapidly and by 1920 when the first international convention was held at Madison Square Garden, over 25,000 people attented. Garvey gained a lot of enemies because of his ideas of repatriation back to Africa which was known as the “Back to Africa Movement”. Slogans were use such as ‘Africa for Africans” and “African Redemption”. These ideas were considered to be revolutionary in the 1920s and a war was beginning to brew against Garvey’s ideas. The Negro World was banned as subversive, and followers of Garvey were denies entry into several Caribbean territories. Some critics even criticized him on the basis that he was encouraging a personality cult and that the movement was based on his personal persuit for power.

One of Garvey’s most ambitious dreams was the formation of a steamship company called the Black Star Line. This company was to be owned by black...

Bibliography: 1. Sherlock Philip The Story of the Jamaican People (Ian Randle Publishers
Limited 1998)
2. Keene Michael New Steps in Religious Education (Nelson Thornes Limites
3. Jones Ken Marcus Garvey Said (United Cooperative Printers 2002)
4. Lewis Rupert Marcus Garvey: Anti-Colonial Champion, (London: Karia
Publishing 1987)
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