He was both idealistic and a manipulator a brilliant debater and an proud dictator, Marcus Garvey was born August 17, 1887, in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica to Marcus Mosiah Garvey sr., and Sarah James Richards. In just ten years following his following his immigration to United States as a laborer in 1917, Marcus Garvey rose to lead the largest black organization in history; he is the dramatic story of the rise and fall of an African American leader who influenced politics and culture around the world.
His mother and father were members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, but Garvey was impressed with Roman Catholicism and never lost an early respect for the faith in both traditions. Later in life insisted that his children be baptized in the High-Church traditions. At age eighteen he was employed as the manager of a printing company and trained young persons in public speaking in his spare time. Garvey gave up his job as a printer and after 1910 devoted himself full-time to politics and his publication of his own paper the Watchman. For a period he left Jamaica and worked at various positions in Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador where he observed the oppressive conditions of blacks and Indians. Garvey lived in London from1912 to 1914, where he attended Birkbeck College taking classes in Law and Philosophy, as well as working for the African Times and Orient Review. Garvey's philosophy was influenced by Booker T. Washington, Martin Delany, and Henry McNeal Turner. It is said that Dusé Mohamed Ali influence shaped Garvey's speeches, and led him to organize the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Jamaica in 1914 It has been suggested that the UNIA motto, "One God, One Aim, One Destiny", originated from Dusé Ali's Islamic influence on Garvey he named the organization the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities. Also during his years in London he was introduced to Pan-Americanism and learned of the atrocities and political tyranny in colonial Africa. His wide reading brought him eventually to Booker T. Washington’s up from slavery, and he determined to visit the United States, where he hoped to meet the great founder of Tuskegee Institute and obtain some advice on developing a trade school for Jamaican young men who would subsequently go to Africa as “technical missionaries.” Garvey campaigned against lynching, Jim Crow laws, denial of black voting rights and racial discrimination. Where UNIA differed from other civil rights organizations was on how the problem could be solved. Garvey doubted whether whites in the United States would ever agree to African Americans being treated as equals and argued for segregation rather than integration. Garvey suggested that African Americans should go and live in Africa. He wrote that he believed "in the principle of Europe for the Europeans, and Asia for the Asiatic" and "Africa for the Africans at home and abroad". Garvey began to sign up recruits who were willing to travel to Africa and "clear out the white invaders". He formed an army, equipping them with uniforms and weapons. Garvey appealed to the new militant feelings of black that followed the end of the First World War and asked those African Americans who had been willing to fight for democracy in Europe to now join his army to fight for equal rights. In 1919 Garvey formed the Black Cross Navigation and Trading Company. With $10,000,000 invested by his supporters Garvey purchased two steamships, Shadyside, Kanawha, to take African Americans to Africa. At a UNIA conference in August, 1920, Garvey was elected provisional president of Africa. He also had talks with the Ku Klux Klan about his plans to repatriate African Americans and published the first volume of Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey. After making a couple of journeys to Africa the Black Cross Navigation and Trading Company ran out of money. Garvey was a poor businessman and although he was probably honest himself, several people in his company had been involved in fraud. Garvey was arrested and charged with fraud and in 1925 was sentenced to five years imprisonment. He had served half of his sentence when President Calvin Coolidge commuted the rest of his prison term and was deported to Jamaica. In 1928 Garvey went on a lecture tour of Britain, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada. On Garvey's return to Jamaica he established the People's Political Party and a new daily newspaper, The Blackman. The following year Garvey was defeated in the general election for a seat in Jamaica's colonial legislature. In July, 1932, Garvey began publishing the evening newspaper, The New Jamaican. The venture was unsuccessful and the printing presses were seized for debts in 1933. He followed this with a monthly magazine, Black Man. He also launched an organization that he hoped would raise money to help create job opportunities for the rural poor in Jamaica. In conclusion Marcus Garvey is known as a leading political figure because of his determination to fight for the unity of African Americans by creating the Universal Negro Improvement Association and rallying to gather supporters to fight. With this group he had many topics such as education, the economy and independence. An important piece of his career was his thoughts of communism. Communism is a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a one-party state dominated through a single and spreading political party. Garvey says " The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity.”