Who Was Marcus Garvey?
by Ideisha Jackson
Born in Jamaica, Marcus Garvey was an orator for the Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism movements, to which end he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. Garvey advanced a Pan-African philosophy which inspired a global mass movement, known as Garveyism. Garveyism would eventually inspire others, from the Nation of Islam and the Rastafari movement.
Early Life – Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. was born on August 17, 1887, in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. Marcus Mosiah Garvey was the last of 11 children born to Marcus Garvey, Sr. and Sarah Jane Richards.
His father was a stone mason, and his mother a domestic worker and farmer. Garvey, Sr. was a great influence on Marcus, who once described him as “severe, firm, determined, bold, and strong, refusing to yield even to superior forces if he believed he was right.” His father was known to have a large library, where young Garvey learned to read.
At age 14, Marcus became a printer’s apprentice. In 1903, he travelled to Kingston, Jamaica, and soon became involved in union activities. In 1907, he took part in an unsuccessful printer’s strike and the experience kindled in him a passion for political activism. Three years later, he travelled throughout Central America working as a newspaper editor and writing about the exploitation of migrant workers in the plantations. He later travelled to London where he attended Birkbeck College (University of London) and worked for the African Times and Orient Review, which advocated Pan-African nationalism.
Garvey’s Philosophy & Beliefs: Marcus Garvey returned to Jamaica in 1912 and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.) with the goal of uniting the African diaspora to “establish a country and absolute government of their own.” After corresponding with Booker T. Washington, the American educator who founded Tuskegee Institute, Garvey travelled to the United States in 1916 to raise funds for a similar venture in Jamaica. He settled in New York City and formed a U.N.I.A. chapter in Harlem to promote a separatist philosophy of social, political, and economic freedom for blacks. In 1918, Garvey began publishing the widely distributed newspaper Negro World to convey his message. (https://www.biography.com/activist/marcus-garvey)
Currently we can still see that Black people, in America, in the Caribbean, and in Africa, are facing very difficult times. In My opinion some of this came about because we never wholeheartedly accepted or tried to develop on Marcus Garvey’s vision for us as a people and therefore up to this day black people are still not empowered. We still are faced with the realities of multiple inequalities and our long struggle for freedom, justice and equality is still but a dream. It is indeed true that over the decades that we have always found ways to resist oppression and not to let our spirit, will or determination be broken and we have continued to struggle for our liberation but we still have far to go.
Undoubtedly Marcus Garvey organized the largest mass movement of Black people in the world. This therefore is the perfect time to remind everyone of Marcus Garvey’s accomplishments, primarily because there is a significant opportunity once again for Black people in America, the Caribbean and in Africa to unite around issues that unite us, such as our economic development and self-sufficiency.
The Rastafari Movement will be hosting three activities in honour of the Great Black Leader Marcus Mosiah Garvey:
1. The Nubian Flower – A food and craft sale on Friday 16th of August at the Kingstown Vegetable Market
2. The Ivine Order of the Nyabinghi – One night of Ises at the Tabernacle at Peter’s Hope
3. Integrated Medical Care and Integrated Medical Urgent Care in Collaboration with the Rastafari Working committee will host a lecture at Frenches House on Monday 19th of August, at 7:00pm
The General Public is invited to participate in these activities.