The Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey (b. August 17, 1887-d. June 10, 1940) was a reformer who sought through the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA & ACL), he founded in his home of Jamaica, Caribbean, on July 20, 1914, to improve the condition of Africans at home and abroad, socially, educationally, institutionally, spiritually, economically, politically constructively, and expansively.
He gave hundreds of speeches, wrote hundreds of self-help essays, like "God and Man" (1929), "When Character is Lost"(1933), and "Africa's Sovereignty"(1939), but his master piece, an essay called 'African Fundamentalism,' written in 1925 while in prison for his reform work reads, "The time has come for the black man to forget and cast behind him his hero worship and adoration of other races and to start out immediately to create and emulate hero's of his own. We must canonize our own saints, create our own martyrs, and elevate to position of fame and honor, black men and women who have made their distinct contributions to our racial history."
Ironically, on June 10, 1940 after 28 years as a leader of a mass movement, the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey died one of the greatest Martyrs of all times. Why do I say this? I say this because there are similarities between his reform efforts to those of Prophet Muhammad's, Moses, Buddha's, and most importantly, similarities of persecution between him and Jesus the Christ. He describes that similarity when he described his persecutors, "We cannot handle Garvey and his Organization, as we have no power, let us go to the State and Federal authorities, and frame him up, let us say that he is an anarchist, a seditionist, and is speaking against the government." Like the Jews of old they cry "Crucify him," or rather, "Send him to prison, deport him."
Knowing the risk, he founded the UNIA & ACL, and served as its first President General, directing it towards the cause of the freedom of African people at home in Africa and abroad, in perpetuity from generation to generation. He was also devoted to the freedom for African people, not just in Liberia, West Africa, but also of all 13 million square miles of their Motherland Africa. His belief in God, and his determination to speak the truth aided him, but they did not prevent him from drawing the unfair attacks upon his character, his reputation, his body, his movement, his businesses, his family, from the most powerful forces in modern times, which included the combined might of Europe and America. Europe and America, after a temporary agreement to carve up Africa at the Berlin conference, in 1884, controlled millions of square miles of territory in Africa, raping it through forced labor of the gold, diamonds, copper, iron ore, tin, nickel, and other
resources to build up Europe and America. As a reformer in the interest of his race he had to face these awesome forces. If that wasn't enough, its sad to say that he drew the attacks at that time, from some of the most well known Negro organizations all over the world, who were satisfied with crumbs from the white mans table, rather than have a government of their own. Rather than help him, many like the scholar W.E.B. Dubois, of the NAACP, because they were jealous, conspired as was done to Yeshua, to destroy him and our races first and largest mass movement that taught us self-reliance.
Where the weak leaders failed the masses, the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey gave us a Parent Body Headquarters with an international Racial Hierarchy of the High Executive Council; that each one of the over 1400 local divisions worldwide duplicated. He had something in the UNIA & ACL for everyone, including, men, women and children. He gave us the auxiliaries of the Universal African Legions, the Universal Black Cross Nurses, the Universal African Motor Corps, the Juvenile department, the Bands, and the Choirs, and the many businesses under the African Communities League, the business arm of the UNIA. Because of these tangible results, when the set backs came from the attacks, the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey was not destroyed. This African leader was never destroyed, because the UNIA & ACL seemed like it was crushed in America, but raised a thousand fold in Africa. The late Tony Martin in his book Race First lays out how often the UNIA membership
helped him to swing back every time they through a punch at him, and helped him get back up again every time they knocked him down. For example sabotage of the Black Star Line caused it to go down but the masses helped him launch a new shipping line called Black Cross Navigation and Trading Company.
The Honorable Marcus Garvey saw the risk in serving his race from the impending external opposition of alien races, and nations, as well as internally from members inside his race. Like Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who told his audience, "I may not get there with you," the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey saw the harm that would come to him, but insisted that leadership meant, "pain, blood, and death," for which to serve his race, he was well prepared for. Through his work he laid the foundation of Black Nationalism that future generations would build upon. Dr. King shortly before his own death, laid a wreath at the Shrine of the Honorable Marcus Garvey in Jamaica, as proof that he was not forgotten.
Opposition to the UNIA & ACL came immediately, while he was still living in Jamaica, but later in America, it got worse. Elected in convention by millions of Africans at home and abroad as Provisional President of Africa, and President General, made him the target, the enemies thought, with a little pressure on him they could stop this manhood movement. Little did they know that he had early in life, been prepared with the courage, and the commitment by his mother and father who made it known that he would one day be a leader of his people. He needed that early preparation for a time that was coming when he was threatened, shot, framed, tried, convicted, sentenced, fined, and serving time in prison.
People who would have given up were amassed at how he suffered persecution gladly for his race, and their posterity. He wrote from prison on February 10, 1925 the following, "Would I not die a million deaths for you? Then why be sad?" He went on to write, "Remember, I have sworn by you and my God to serve to the end of all time, the wreck of matter and the crash or worlds."
Some of his followers that this author has met were never ashamed of him nor did they buy the negative propaganda that, all reformers have had to suffer from, through the spoken or written words of their enemies.
He was not afraid in the Jim Crow, KKK infested 'White Houses" era in America, where thousands were being beaten and lynched, and at the same time, colonial powers in Africa, South and Central America, Europe, Asia and Australia, were murdering Africans who stood up daily. In the US he taught in the North and the South his belief that our race had a right to self-help, and self-determination not just for those in his lifetime, but also for the future members of his race for which he was also working. His newspaper the Negro World penetrated every through every port along the shores of Africa, carrying his message even into the bush, in Spanish, French and the English languages.
He was the greatest martyr because he was the greatest business leader. He created employment for thousands of young boys and girls in the offices of the many UNIA & ACL business enterprise. Today, seventy-one years after his death in 1940, opposition in the media, movies, the press etc are still trying to kill his name, by removing him from history, and by making it seem like he was not to be taken serious, or worse, that he was a crook trying to rob Black people. He was not only honest to a penny, kept excellent records, but also for the cause, he gave the UNIA & ACL out of his savings, money it needed to get started. Later on, into every UNIA & ACL enterprise, be it the Black Star Line Shipping Corporation, the Negro Factories Corporation, etc he invested his own money. On top of that, when he would hold speaking engagements wherever he traveled, he brought in tens of thousands of dollars yearly into the coffers of the UNIA & ACL, so that most of
whatever salary was given to him, it was returned to the organization.
He was great because he was the first to assemble in 1920 twenty–five thousand Africans in an international convention from forty countries and kept them together that entire 31 days in the month of August. They laid out the Declaration of Rights, that called for Black History and for the red, black and green flag. He was the greatest, archetypical Martyr, that deserves the highest place as a hero among men, because every woken moment, often on just four hours of sleep a day, whether in the US, the Caribbean or Europe, until the day he died he was focused on serving his race first, and like the faithful soldier, he died with his boots on.
Finally, we are thankful that no matter how hard his enemies try; they soon realize that you can't fool all the African people, all the time. The Honorable Marcus Garvey is the First National Hero of Jamaica, and has streets, parks and schools named after him with hundreds of more on the way. There are libraries full of books on his life and works, and hundreds more are also on the way. He has two sons from his marriage to Amy Jacques Garvey, who are Dr. Marcus Garvey III, and Dr. Julius Winston Garvey, so his bloodline continues. If all else fails to remind us of this great martyr, and his efforts to reform his race, then let us recognize that one –hundred years later, the UNIA & ACL and those disciples who follow him, are still here and will be around to tell the story of the life of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
In conclusion, when compared to any leader, research shows that he was great because he gave our race exceptional leadership that made him the embodiment of heroism. As a promoter of black pride, and racial unity, he played a significant roll in the worldwide explosion of Universal African or Black Nationalism, as orator, journalist, newspaper publisher, teacher, poet, and debater. His living had a notable effect on the lives of 11,000,000 UNIA & ACL members during his lifetime, and an effect on many more since his passing. There were only two independent nations on the continent of Africa in 1920, but today, in many respects, because of his work, there are fifty-four. His love for his race, and his political philosophy of Black nationalism influenced men and women who would not be ashamed to be connected to him such as, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Sarah R. Isaac, Theresa Young, Dr. Leroy Bundy, Ethel Waddell, President
Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Jean Slappy, Elinor White, Hon. James Stewart, Nathaniel Grissom, John Zampty, Hon. Mason Hargraves, Mr. & Mrs. Bertha Fitzhugh, Hon. Reginald Maddox, Hon. Redman Battle, Fred Toote, President Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, El hajj Malik El Shabazz, Hon. Charles L. James, Hon. Alma Golden, Bob Marley, Estelle James, Hon. Thomas W. Harvey, Iris Lucille Patterson, John Vincent, Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis, John Henry Clark, Janet Irvin, Mahalia Williams, Bishop Dr. G. Duncan Hinkson, Attorney Baily, Steve Cokley, Carlos Cooks, Madame DeMena, Mr. & Mrs. Henry Langdon, Amy Ashwood Garvey, Dr. Leo Bertley, and Hilbert Keys. Let us remember the UNIA & ACL members in the millions in places like Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Puerto Rico.
In Africa the UNIA & ACL was located in Accra, Amanpupong, Monrovia, Lagos, New Hope Freetown, West Ward, Basutoland, Capetown, Claremont, Woodstock, Evaton Goodwood, Pretoria, West London, Luderitz and Windhoek.. Likewise in the Motherland, we must remember the UNIA & ACL members and supporters such as Solomon T. Plaajite of South Africa, Josiel Lefela of Lesotho, South Africa; Mr. and Mrs. Wilfred A Wilson of Senegal; Headman Hosea Kutako of Namibia; Tehodore M. Kakaza from Healdtown South Africa; James S. Thaele from Cape Town South Africa; Ladipo Solanke of Nigeria; Fitz Herbert Headly of Luderitz, South West Africa; Chief J. Akinpelu Obisesan of Nigeria; and Wellington Butelezi of Transkei, South Africa. The list of organizations that stood on the shoulders of the UNIA & ACL are far too many to mention but those that stand out are organizations like the NOI, MSTA, Rasta's, AOC, MGI, the Peace Movement of Ethiopia, and the Marcus Garvey Cultural Club.
The Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey in 1937, three years before he died in taught a course called African Philosophy to his handpicked members. This course was suppose to be a secret course, but now that it is in print, the entire African race will soon have in their hands our martyrs guide post by which they shall be "directed into the true course of life," as I remain your humble servant President of The Marcus Garvey Institute, member of the UNIA & ACL, and graduate of the School of African Philosophy.
Posted by: Shaka Barak <email@example.com>
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