Today, in Black History month we honor Marcus Garvey who was a Political Activist, Publisher, and Entrepreneur born in 1887 to a moderately prosperous family in Jamaica.
Garveys first foray into political activism came in 1914 when he founded UNIA - The Universal Negro Improvement Association. He expanded the organisation when he moved to New York and set up its headquarters in 1916. Some 3 years later Garvey purchased an Auditorium in Harlem and named it Liberty Hall where he preached his “Back To Africa” and “Race First” messages to the masses. His black nationalist and pan-african ideologies have become widely known as ‘Garveyism’.
By the early 1920’s Garvey had established over 700 branches of UNIA in 38 American States, and was elected by its members as provisional President of Africa where he dressed in his now infamous military uniform.
Garvey also went on to establish a slew of businesses that employed over 1,000 black people, the most notable being the Black Star Line Shipping Company, that was to facilitate the movement of people back and forth to Africa. He also founded the Negro World Newspaper to which he was a regular contributor.
Garvey's UNIA was bigger than the Civil Rights Movement and had a tremendous influence on Rastafarianism, the Black Power Movement and the Nation of Islam . He inspired many black leaders including Malcolm X, Dr Martin Luther King and Minister Louis Farrafhan.
A lasting tribute to Garvey’s legacy is a statue that stands in St. Anne’s Bay the town where he was born in Jamaica.
Contributed and narration by Colleen Morgan