The Blackman cannot protect a country, if the country doesn't protect him; and if tomorrow, a war arise, I would not raise a musket to defend a country where my manhood is denied. Henry McNeal Turner

When you think about Garvey, we must think about what could have been if his movement was allowed to have continued without government intervention, without other black leader’s attempts to bring it down, and its own mismanagement of the organization and funds. Garvey was a great man but way to often our race places to much of a burden on just one man. People that Garvey had put in place,  to manage affairs where not the right people to be in control. People ask where did the UNIA and Garvey go wrong. And it was that one man couldn't do everything. We need to look back into our history and not make the same mistake's that we made in the past.

This page will look at the UNIA and at Garvey and allow you to see what could of been. This site is to always expose you to people and methods that will make you a more enlightened person and to empower you and your mind.. Not all people are aware of Garvey and the UNIA so take what we give you here and purchase books that will educate you and uplift you about your race. You must also examine what people are offering you today and measure it against what people offered you in the past and ask yourself, are they really trying to help the race or to help themselves and others by giving the appearance of helping you.

We live in a great media age now, and also in a time when people make a living by being a good spin doctor, making things appear to be something which it's not. And getting masses of people to believe those things are what’s really happening. With the age of television and access to limited amount of news that is positive about our people, we are given people who look like us, who seem to be working for the people and they're actually not. They desire to be powerbrokers and use our loyalty to benefit others who don't look like us. So like Public Enemy stated "Don't Believe The Hype" when someone comes along with a new book, program, organization, television show that say's that they have what you been seeking. For then you must be able to analyze it and peek behind the curtain to see, is it better then what we had in the past, if not go find another sucker. Now let's take a look at what might have been. Thank You!

            Birth of the UNIA 1914-1916

Marcus Garvey Hero: By Tony Martin

                                           THE CALL TO LEADERSHIP:

As he left the port of Southampton on that June day in 1914, Marcus Garvey could look back on four years of intensive further preparation for the life’s work that lay ahead. Through Central and South America, through Great Britain and Europe, he had traveled. He had lived in Black communities, worked amongst the people, shared their joys and sorrows. He had agitated on their behalf and noted their weakness. And he had listened, learnt and reflected on what he had seen.

In London, on his return from Europe, Marcus had also read Booker T. Washington’s autobiography, Up From Slavery. Born a slave in the United States, Washington had worked his way to become founder of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, the most famous Black-controlled educational establishment in the world. In the field of politics, he had become the most powerful Black man in the United States. In big ways and small, he had been able to help large numbers of his people.

Up From Slavery had a tremendous impact on Marcus, He then and there realized his “doom,” as he put it, of becoming a leader of his people. Writing some years later, he recalled—”I asked: ‘Where is the Black man’s government?’ ‘Where is his King and his Kingdom?’ ‘Where is his president, his country, and his ambassador, his army, his navy, his men of big affairs?’ I could not find them and then I declared, ‘I will help to make them.” The slow boat trip back to Jamaica took almost a month and Marcus had enough time to think further about his decision. “Becoming naturally restless for the opportunity of doing something for the advancement of my race,” he said of his last days in London, “I was determined that the black man would not continue to be kicked about by all the other races and nations of the world, as I saw it in the West Indies, South and Central America and Europe, and as I read of it in America.” Marcus’ enthusiasm for his future work now could not be contained. “My young and ambitious mind,” he wrote, “led me into flights of great imagination. I saw before me then, 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.”
One of Marcus’ fellow travelers on the trip home was a West Indian man who had lived in Basutoland (now called Lesotho), a British colony totally surrounded by South Africa. He brought with him a Basuto wife. Marcus already had some knowledge of conditions in European-ruled Africa, but what this man told him was worse than anything he had heard yet. “He related to me such horrible and pitiable tales,” Marcus remembered, “that my heart bled within me.”

Yet, the trip home was not totally devoted to serious reflection and discussion. The ship stopped at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad on its way to Jamaica and Marcus received an opportunity to do some sightseeing. This was his first visit to the island and he had no close friends there. As he strolled through the streets of Port-of-Spain, just another face in the crowd, he could not have guessed that in a mere five years time, his would be one of the most revered names on the island. How could he have imagined that by 1919 the leaders of the most powerful workers’ organization, the Trinidad Workingmen’s Association, would be members of his soon-to-be-founded Universal Negro Improvement Association? Or that his newspaper, the Negro World, would be banned by the Trinidad government? Or that some of his followers who happened to be born in Grenada and Jamaica would be deported from the island? Yet, these things were soon to be.


Marcus arrived in Kingston, Jamaica, on July 15, 1914. Five days later he founded the Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation Association and African Communities (Imperial) League. “Conservation”
and “Imperial” were later dropped from the title. Most people over the years have known it simply as the Universal Negro Improvement Association, or UNIA. The title of the new organization revealed Marcus’ desire to improve the condition of Africans all over the world, be they in the West Indies, Afro- America, Africa itself or anywhere else. Marcus used the word “Negro” as a convenient means of denoting all persons of African descent. Since the 1960s, however, the word has become unpopular, due to its slavery origins. “African,” “Afro-American” and “Black” are among the terms now widely used in place of “Negro.” Conditions in the West Indies have already been described. Conditions in Africa and Afro-America were as bad, if not worse.

 Despite four hundred years of the transatlantic slave trade, most of Africa had remained independent of European domination up until the early nineteenth century. But in the half century or so before 1914, practically the whole continent had been conquered by European nations, in what history books call the “Scramble for Africa.” So great was this scramble that European nations seemed
on the verge of going to war among themselves as each one tried to gobble up as much of the continent as it could. The threat of war was lessened by the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, where the Europeans decided instead of fighting to sit around the conference table and discuss who should get what parts of Africa. Only Ethiopia and Liberia escaped European colonialism. Ethiopia, under the Emperor Menelik II, crushed an invading Italian army at the Battle of Aduwa in 1896. Liberia, established as a home for Afro-American ex-slaves, had been independence it since 1847.

Even after the end of slavery in the Western Hemisphere, forced labor (practically slavery under a
rent name) continued in some parts of Africa. And the conquest of Africa had been followed by the Slaughter of millions of Africans, on a scale far greater than anything happening in the West Indies or Afro- America at that time. In the Belgian Congo alone, an estimated 8 to 20 million Africans were killed in twenty years or so near the end of the nineteenth century. As in the West Indies, Africans in 1914 had almost no political power. Illiteracy was widespread.

The same tale of woe could be told about Afro- America. Here slavery had ended in 1865. In that year, about 95 per cent of Afro Americans were illiterate. Soon after slavery ended, Afro Americans were given the right to vote and to be elected to legislative bodies. But by 1914, most of them had lost these rights as state after state passed laws preventing Black people from voting. In the South, where the vast majority of Black people lived, segregation laws forced Blacks to live in inferior areas, go to inferior schools, travel in the back of the bus and receive less pay for equal labor. In addition, lynching, a practice unknown in the West Indies in 1914, was rampant. Lynching consisted of the public murder of Afro Americans by mobs of white people, usually for no justifiable reason. Thousands of Black people of all ages and both sexes were hanged, shot, burned at the stake and/or beaten to death at street corners, in parks and in other public places. Sometimes lynching were even advertised in advance, to encourage large crowds of spectators. The murderers were not normally apprehended, though they performed their acts in the open.

By 1914, thousands of Afro-Americans were leaving their traditional homes in the South, in hopes of escaping these harsh conditions. They were moving to large northern cities, such as New York, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia. Haiti was the only independent predominantly African country outside of Africa in 1914. But it was soon to lose its independence, for United States military forces invaded it in 1915. The North Americans remained until 1934. It was for all these reasons then, that Marcus Garvey, as he looked around the world of 1914, had to ask himself, “Where is the black man’s government?”

Marcus was elected president and traveling com missioner of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Among the fifteen members of the “board of management” were his sister, Indiana, her husband, Alfred Peart and Amy Ashwood. Amy was only seven teen years old and had attended Westwood Training College for Women. She was beautiful, intelligent and talented. Marcus, shortly after his arrival home, had attended a debate at the East Queen Street Baptist Church Hall. There he listened as Amy Ashwood defended the proposition that “Morality does not increase with the march of civilization.” He was impressed and struck up a friendship. Amy Ashwood became one of the first members of the UNIA and general secretary of the Ladies’ Division. Five years later she became Marcus’ first wife.

The early officers and members of the UNIA were similar to Marcus in many ways. They were ambitious people who had worked hard, sometimes in spite of humble beginnings, to improve themselves. They were politically aware and artistically inclined. Some had been active in small political organizations, trade unions, literary and debating societies, informal discussion groups and sporting clubs. Some had known Marcus before his departure from Jamaica. They looked forward to the day when Jamaica would be self-governing and free from racial prejudice. They felt a great bond of kinship with other peoples of African descent around the world and sympathized with other struggling peoples everywhere. Some, like J. Coleman Beecher and A. Bain Alves, would be known as political activists or labor leaders for several years to come.

One of the first tasks of the UNIA was to publish a list of aims and objectives. These included “general” objects relating to African peoples all over the world and “local” objects pertaining to Jamaica. They were as follows—

To establish a Universal Confraternity among the race.
To promote the spirit of race pride and love.
To reclaim the fallen of the race.
To administer to and assist the needy.
To assist in civilizing the backward tribes of Africa.
To strengthen the Imperialism of independent African States.
To establish Commissionaires or Agencies in the principal countries of the world for the protection of all Negroes, irrespective of nationality.
To promote a conscientious spiritual worship among the native tribes of Africa.
To establish Universities, Colleges and Secondary Schools for the further education and culture of the boys and girls of the race.
To conduct a worldwide commercial and industrial intercourse.

To establish educational and industrial (day and evening) colleges for the further education and culture of our boys and girls.
To reclaim the fallen and degraded (especially the criminal Class) and help them to a state of good citizenship.
To work among, administer to and assist the needy.
To promote a better taste for commerce and industry.
To rescue the fallen women of the island from the pit of infamy and vice.
To promote a cordial relationship between all men and strengthen the bonds of brotherhood.
To do all that is possible and reasonable to help the struggling masses to a higher state of moral appreciation.
To help generally in the development of the country.

The new organization also adopted a motto which was soon to become very famous—One God! One
Aim! One Destiny! It rented offices at

30 Charles Street
in downtown Kingston. In the beginning, the UNIA did not seem very different from most other West Indian charitable organizations, then and now. It entertained and fed hundreds of poor and sick people, especially on Emancipation Day (August 1st) and at Christmas. It opened an employment bureau to help those out of work and planned to set up an industrial farm and [ The idea here was to lessen unemployment by giving poor people marketable skills. It hoped to run a night school for adults in connection the farm and institute. And the UNIA ladies sold artificial flowers to raise funds for this charitable work.

Literary and debating societies were popular in those days and the UNIA served as such a society also Weekly meetings usually included a debate on some interesting subject. This was an excellent means of informing the membership on historical matters and current affairs. The feminist movement of the time was also reflected in such debate topics as “Is the intellect of woman as highly developed as that of man’s?” (Marcus argued for the affirmative), and “Women or men, whose influence is more felt in the world?”
Debates were not the only literary activity. The young UNIA held several fundraising concerts. Here, persons would recite from the works of poets such as Longfellow and the Afro-American, Paul Laurence Dunbar. Skits were also performed. Lectures, too, were regularly presented. Sometimes Garvey himself would speak. Sometimes others, including guest lee. turners from outside the UNIA, would address the meeting. And Marcus naturally used the organization to further his love for elocution contests. He himself once won the first prize of a gold-filled watch for his rendition of “Chatham on the American War.” To round it all off, the UNIA ran a library and reading room.

Marcus insisted from the beginning that the UNIA was not a political party. This did not mean that it was not interested in the political events of the day. For example, like most West Indians of all races at the beginning of the First World War (1914-1918), Marcus and the UNIA supported the British king and govern ment against the Germans. (This support turned to widespread resentment later on, due to the mistreatment of Black West Indian soldiers). In the political field the young UNIA in January 1915 also protested a bill in the United States Senate, which sought to block West Indian immigration to the U.S.A. Marcus said that such a law would make it even more difficult than it already was, for West Indian students to obtain a university education.

At first some influential white persons such as the governor and a Scottish clergyman helped the UNIA. They could find nothing wrong with just another harmless charitable organization, or so the UNIA seemed. Later, they would change their minds, but not yet. In October 1914 the governor, Sir William H. Manning, even donated some money to the association. The most severe opposition at the beginning came from the coloured group and some of the better-off Blacks. “I never really knew there was so much colour prejudice in Jamaica, my own native home,” Marcus confessed later, “until I started the work of the Universal Negro Improvement Association.” He continued, “Nobody wanted to be a Negro. . . . Men and women as black as I, and even more so, had believed themselves white under the West Indian order of society. I was simply an impossible man to use openly the term ‘Negro;’ yet every one beneath his breath was calling the black man a nigger.” Marcus was now faced, as he saw it, with an alternative—” had to decide whether to please my friends and be one of the ‘black-whites’ of Jamaica, and be reasonably prosperous, or come out openly, and defend and help improve and protect the integrity of the black millions, and suffer. I decided to do the latter.

Though Marcus’ main intention was to lift up his people, he never had any hesitation in frankly pointing out their weaknesses. Some people thought his criticisms too harsh. Yet, a careful reading of his re marks will show that behind his harsh words was a burning desire to rescue his people from ignorance and poverty. In August 1915, Marcus delivered such a critical speech at the Collegiate Hall in Kingston. For days afterwards the newspapers carried letters attacking what he had said. Typical of his remarks that night was the following passage—”Kingston and its environs are so infested with the uncouth and vulgar of our people that we of the cultured class feel positively ashamed to move about, and through this state of affairs some of our most representative men even flatter themselves to believe that they are not of us and practically refuse to identify themselves with the people. Well, this society [has set itself the task to go up among the people and help them up. . . .“ He declared that Black people should not look to whites for charity forever. “What we lack,” he advised, “is self-help, and self-reliance we are always wanting somebody to do something for us.... My opinion is that we are too envious, malicious and superficial, and because of this we keep back ourselves and eventually keep back the country.”

These were strong words and seemingly very negative and disparaging. But there was one saving feature. They were not criticism simply for the sake of criti cism. They were intended to be followed by positive action to right the wrongs he complained about. Some of his attackers did not see it this way. One of them wrote, “his disgraceful utterances [ nothing but a rank insult to the Negro race. . . Yet Marcus moved on, for he was determined. He said in the same controversial speech, “those who desire to serve the people must be prepared for the criticism of the unjust and uncharitable.” In 1916 he wrote, in a private letter, that he believed himself “called to service in the interest of his unfortunate people.”

Sometime in 1914, Marcus began to correspond with Booker T. Washington. He wanted to undertake
lecture tour of the United States to raise funds for the UNIA’s industrial farm and institute. He hoped that Washington would help him, especially since the UNIA project would be copied from Washington’s own Tuskegee Institute. Washington promised to help but (lied in November 1915, before Marcus left Jamaica. Marcus held memorial meetings for him and praised him as an outstanding leader.

Meanwhile, word of the UNIA began to spread overseas. In January 1915 a lady from Antigua wrote Marcus. She had read of the UNIA in the Christian Science Monitor, a newspaper published in Boston in the U.S.A. She hoped that the UNIA would extend its work to the other West Indian islands. Later that year the organization itself began to advertise for letters from persons in Colon and Bocas del Toro in Panama, and from Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua “and other parts.” Early in 1916 Marcus finally left on his lecture tour of the United States. He expected to be away about five months, but it was to be eleven years and many months before he would return to Jamaica to stay. By then, he would be just about the best known Black man in the whole world.

       From Jamaica to the USA 1916-1918

Marcus Garvey arrived in New York on March 23, 1916. By this time the United States had replaced Panama as the major destination for West Indian emi grants. Some 30,000 persons from Jamaica alone moved permanently to the United States between 1911 and 1921. Most of these went to New York. Most West Indians in New YorkHarlem, the city’s major Black community. By 1920 almost one out of every five Black people in Harlem was a West Indian. Many of today’s Black native New Yorkers are in fact the descendants of this generation of West Indian emigrants.

Harlem was an immigrant community in other ways too. Most of its population consisted of refugees from the racism of the American South. Even its native New York-born population had only moved there recently from other parts of the city. Yet, by 1916 this young community was already well on the way to becoming one of the best known in the African world. It was a vibrant, cosmopolitan place, bubbling over with political, cultural and religious activity. There were also overcrowding, rundown neighborhoods, poverty, police brutality and unemployment. But still the vigor and vitality of the people managed to shine through it all. Marcus moved in with a Jamaican family in Harlem and got a job as a printer. He also came down with pneumonia. As usual, he did not remain in his job for very long. His mind was on other things. As soon as he saved a few dollars he was off on his lecture tour. He was billed as head of the UNIA of Jamaica and he usually spoke on conditions in his home island or in the Caribbean in general. He let his audiences know that any funds he raised would be going towards the UNIA’s industrial farm and institute in Jamaica.

Marcus kicked off his lecture tour with a meeting on May 9, 1916, at St. Mark’s Roman Catholic Church Hall at

57 West 138th Street
in Harlem. His subject was “Jamaica” and his audience was composed largely of Jamaicans and other West Indians. He might have hoped for a better beginning, for he is said to have fallen off the platform during the speech. Thirty-Eight States in a Year By June he was lecturing in Boston, the second most important center for West Indian-Americans after New York. Over the next year he traveled through thirty-eight of the country’s forty-eight states. A handbill advertising his lecture at the Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 25, 1917, invited one and all to hear “the Great West Indian Negro Leader, Hon. Marcus Garvey, President of the Universal Negro Improvement Association of Jamaica, West Indies.” Marcus’ topic was to be “The Negroes of the West Indies, after 78 years of Emancipation.’ With a general talk on the world position of the race, ” Whether Marcus himself or the Rev. R. H. Singleton, Big Bethel’s pastor, prepared the handbill is not known.

But it was a powerful invitation, with clear shades of North American ballyhoo. Few who read it must have been able to resist coming out to hear Marcus speak. “An orator of exceptional force,” it proclaimed, though truthfully enough, “Professor Garvey has spoken to packed audiences in England, New York, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, and other cities. He has traveled to the principal countries of Europe, and was the first Negro to speak to the Veterans’ Club of London, England.” For the difficult to convince who had read this far and had not yet decided to come out and hear the Jamaican orator, there was a parting blast, designed to sweep them right into the audience—”This is the only chance to hear a great man who has taken his message before the world. COME OUT EARLY TO SECURE SEATS. It is worth traveling 1,000 miles to hear.”

Apart from lecturing on the West Indies in order to raise funds, Marcus had another interest on his tour through the states—he wanted to observe how Afro-Americans lived and generally study local conditions. He met with some of Afro-America’s leading national and local personalities. These included Ida Wells Barnett of Chicago, a leader of the fight against lynching and a prominent figure in Afro-American women’s organizations. He also met John Edward Bruce of Yonkers, New York, a well-known journalist and Emmett J. Scott, secretary of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Some of his contacts were people he had corresponded with. These in turn would often put him in touch with persons in other cities.

Marcus was very impressed with Afro-America. As he himself put it around November 1917 in Chicago, “I have seen Negro banks in Washington and Chicago, stores, cafes, restaurants, theaters and real estate agencies that fill my heart with joy to realize. . . that at one center of Negrodom, at least, the people of the race have sufficient pride to do things for themselves.” Much of the credit for all this, he argued, was due to American race prejudice. For since whites would not eat in the same restaurants or shop in the same stores as Blacks, Afro-Americans were thereby forced to provide many of these services for themselves. He thought that Afro-Americans still had a long way to go, but they were ahead of any other Black communities he had seen.

In the face of all this Afro-American progress Marcus even blamed West Indians for emigrating rather than standing up and fighting for a better West Indies. He said, “the educated men are immigrating to the
United States, Canada, and Europe; the laboring element are to be found by the thousands in Central and South America. These people are leaving their homes simply because they haven’t pride and courage enough to stay at home and combat the forces that make them exiles.” He now saw Afro-West Indians as people overcome by a great slumber since emancipation. “The Negroes of the West Indies have been sleeping for 78 years,” he lamented, “and are still under the spell of Rip Van Winkle. These people want a terrific sensation to awaken them to racial consciousness. We are throwing away good business opportunities in the beautiful islands of the West. We have no banks of our own, no big stores and commercial undertakings; we depend on others as dealers while we remain consumers.”

Marcus wound up his nationwide tour in the South. One of his last stops was in New Orleans, Louisiana, which he visited in May 1917. He arrived back in New York with a vast amount of new knowledge and full of confidence. He had visited most of the significant areas of Black population. He had conferred with national and local leaders all over Afro-America. He had carefully read the press and interested himself in the issues of the day as they affected Afro-Americans. He had praised their progress and noted their shortcomings. He was now thinking of leaving the United States in October 1917, but, whether he knew it or not, Afro-America was already growing on him.

Marcus’ first speech on his return to Harlem was on June 12, 1917. The occasion was a meeting at the Bethel AME Church called by Hubert H. Harrison. Harrison was born in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, in 1883 and had emigrated to New York at the age of seventeen. By 1917 he had become one of Harlem’s most highly respected intellectuals. His meeting on that June night was to found a new organization, the Liberty League of Negro Americans. There were about 2,000 people present. Marcus stole the show. With a year of constant speaking to Afro-American audiences behind him, he swept the Harlemites off their feet. Most of the people present eventually ended up in the UNIA. Harrison himself later edited the UNIA’s newspaper.
Marcus now began holding meetings every Sunday at 3:00 P.M. at Harlem’s Lafayette Hall. His talk on July 8, 1917 was entitled “Conspiracy of the East St. Louis Riots” and dealt with a horrible massacre of the Black residents of that city. White mobs had dragged Black men, women and children from tram. cars and pounced upon them in the streets. Many were beaten and shot. The mob had then set fire to Black neighborhoods and shot the victims as they tried to escape from the flames. One newspaper stated—”Negroes are being shot down like rabbits and strung up to telegraph poles.” Estimates of the numbers killed ran to as high as over 100. Ten thou sand Black survivors fled the city in a single day.

Most of the Blacks killed in East St. Louis were recent immigrants from Louisiana and Marcus had of course only recently returned from there. His speech on this occasion was a bitter one, for he felt deeply for the victims. “The East St. Louis Riots, or rather massacre, of Monday 2nd,” he thundered, “will go down in history as one of the bloodiest outrages against mankind for which any class of people could be held guilty.” Voices in the audience shouted “Hear! Hear!” He went on, “This is no time for fine words, but a time to lift one’s voice against the savagery of a people who claim to be the dispensers of democracy.” The Bible had instructed mankind, he said, that “God created of one blood all nations of men to dwell upon the face of the earth.” But yet the Afro-American had always been denied his rights to live in peace. “For three hundred years,” Marcus complained, “the Negroes of America have given their life blood to make the Republic the first among the nations of the world, and all along this time, there has never been even one year of justice but on the contrary a continuous round of oppression.

At one time it was slavery, at another time lynching and burning, and up to date it is wholesale butchering.” Marcus could hardly contain his anger. He denounced the massacre as a “crime against the laws of humanity,” a “crime against the laws of the nation,” a “crime against nature, and a crime against the God of all mankind.” He ended with a word of warning—”white people are taking advantage of Black men today be cause Black men all over the world are disunited.” His audience now erupted into “loud and prolonged cheers.” His speech was published in pamphlet form. The proceeds went to a fund for the victims of East St. Louis. In Harlem Marcus did not confine himself to in door meetings. Speakers’ Corner in London had given him a taste for soapbox oratory. In Harlem speakers regularly addressed crowds on the sidewalks and Marcus followed suit. He set up his soapbox on
Lenox Avenue
, one of Harlem’s busiest streets. He found that his box did not give him as much space to move about and gesticulate as he would have liked. So he had a special step-ladder constructed with a platform on it.

There still remained, however, the task of feeding and clothing himself. So wrapped up was Marcus with his work that he bothered little about the normal comforts of life. He dressed poorly and even shabbily. In a community as fashion-conscious as Harlem he seemed an odd figure. He lived in a cheap, poorly- heated room. His diet also was not particularly inspiring. Someone who knew him well at this time remembered seeing him dine often on corned beef hash in a cheap restaurant. His room, this friend recalled, was liberally stocked with empty cans from which he had eaten many a meager morsel. Yet Marcus struggled on. There was earnestness in his manner which made people stop and listen to him. Besides, he was already acquiring a name for the excellence of his oratory and the power of his voice. Someone who heard him speak from a soapbox at the corner of
Lenox Avenue
135th Street
in Harlem said that Garvey could be heard as far away as
125th Street
, ten blocks away. This was doubtless an exaggeration, but it made the point. The man had a tremendous voice.

As 1918 approached, Marcus decided to organize a branch of the UNIA in New York. He did not hold office in this branch, since he was still planning to return to Jamaica. Socialist and Republican Party organizers tried to form this UNIA branch into a unit of their respective parties and wrecked it in the process. So Marcus tried again. The same thing happened a second time. This time thirteen of his followers encouraged him to stay and head the New York branch himself. He probably did not require too much persuading by this time, and so the UNIA in New York was off in a big way by 1918. At this point Kingston gave way to Harlem as UNIA headquarters.

    Garveyism sweeps the world 1918-1922

The Universal Negro Improvement Association in New York was legally incorporated on July 2, 1918.
It immediately began to spread to other areas. Marcus used the contacts he had established through his many years of travel. He also sent agents over the world spreading his message and organizing branches. Many of those who did this work for him were sea men. He himself continued to travel frequently around the United States and Canada. Whereas his first tour had been to lecture and familiarize himself with
North America, now his main purpose was to build the UNIA. In Harlem the UNIA in due course bought its own meeting place, Liberty Hall, at

120 West 138th Street
. UNIA branches all over the world also called their meeting places by the same name.

There were many reasons for the rapid growth of the UNIA. Marcus’ dedication and tireless work certainly helped. His oratorical skill was a big help, too, for people would come from far and wide just to hear him speak. He also had charisma, the power to attract people and hold their loyalty. He could exert tremendous power over an audience. He could stir their emotions and sweep them along with the power of his words. And the mass of people who became his followers were known for their loyalty. Many thought of him as a superhuman being who had been sent to rescue the race from suffering and oppression. The times were also suitable to the spread of Garvey’s message. For the period around the end of World War I was one of ferment in many countries. The war had been fought supposedly to make the world safe for democracy and as it neared its end, oppressed peoples began clamouring for some of that democracy that the politicians had spoken about. The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Irish Easter uprising of 1916 against the British were, like the formation of the UNIA, part of that worldwide ferment.

This was the time, Marcus thought, for African peoples to make their move. He explained it this way to his followers—”Classes, nations and races which have been quite quiet for centuries are now asserting themselves and demanding a readjustment of things. The despised Negro who has been kicked about and cuffed for over four centuries, and who has been the hewer of wood and the drawer of water for other men, who has merely borne abuse, insult and humiliation for many generations; whose patience, docility and forbearance can only be compared to the prophet Job, has likewise lifted his bowed head, looking tip to God’s skies and cried out: ‘I am a man and demand a man’s chance and a man’s treatment in the world.”
Merely asserting oneself was not enough, however. The oppressed needed a clear body of ideas to guide them in their quest for freedom and equality. Marcus put forward such a set of ideas, “Garveyism,” as some people call it. His ideas contained three major elements.

The first was what Marcus called race first. He argued that Black people had long been oppressed be cause of their race. They should therefore strive to put their own racial self-interest first in everything they did. They should support their own businessmen, professionals, writers, athletes and so on, provided that these persons also had their people’s interest at heart. Black people, too, should see beauty in their own kind and not try to bleach their skins or other wise look like what they were not. Marcus also objected to Blacks marrying whites. He saw this as an admission on the part of the Blacks concerned that they were dissatisfied with their own kind. In the days of slavery, he argued, miscegenation or race mixture had occurred because the African woman had no protection from the slave master. That could not be helped now. But there was now no need for Black people to themselves freely continue a practice that smacked so much of slavery.
Race first also meant that Black writers, artists, musicians and dancers should all use their creative talents to help push forward the struggle of their people.

Some of the major European writers and poets had used their work to support colonialism and racism and so the writers and poets of the oppressed should not hesitate to side with their own people either. Rudyard Kipling, one of the most celebrated of British poets, was a good example of all this. His widely known poem, “White Man’s Burden,” written in 1899 when Marcus was a boy, justified the European conquest of darker peoples. Africans and Asians, Kipling wrote, were inferior beings, “half-devil and half-child” and it was the white man’s “burden” to catch and civilize them. The first verse of Kipling’s poem read,

Take up the White Man’s Burden— Send forth the best ye breed— Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need— To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half child.

T. Thomas Fortune, one of Afro-America’s most famous journalists and an editor of two UNIA news papers, replied to Kipling in a poem called “The Black Man’s Burden.” Fortune’s first stanza went like this—

What is the Black Man’s Burden, Ye hypocrites and vile,
Ye whited sepulchres
From th’ Amazon to the Nile?
What is the Black Man’s Burden,
Ye Gentile parasites,
Who crush and rob your brother
Of his manhood and his rights?

Marcus applied race first to the writing of history too. He said that “History is written with prejudices, likes and dislikes; and there has never been a white historian who ever wrote with any true love or feeling for the Negro.” He pointed out, for example, that Africans built the world’s first civilization on the Nile river in what is now Egypt, the Sudan and Ethiopia, but white historians had tried to hide this fact. Marcus also applied race first to religion. If God was a spirit, he argued, then God had no colour. But it was customary for people to depict their gods in human form and in that case God should be depicted in the race of the people concerned. As far as Marcus was concerned, Africans in the New World were among the very few people anywhere who worshipped gods of a different race and colour from themselves.

In 1921 some churchmen in the UNIA founded the African Orthodox Church. First bishop was the Rev. George Alexander McGuire, formerly an Anglican minister in his native Antigua. The church remained close to the UNIA but was never an official part of it. Marcus did not want to divide his organization along religious lines. Many Muslims also belonged to the UNIA. The second major idea which Marcus put forward to guide the UNIA was self-reliance. He felt that a struggling people should not rely primarily on others or their liberation. A people would not be able to appreciate freedom fully, he thought, unless it learnt to do things for itself. And he felt sure that in the process of making themselves independent and strong, Black people would win the respect of other races. Marcus despised those who felt that they could free their people by begging for help from those who had formerly enslaved them. No one respected a beggar. Black people would cease to be oppressed and discriminated against, Marcus said, when they learnt how to work together to make themselves strong. Achieving this was the purpose he set the UNIA. I once expressed these ideas this way—”If we must have justice we must be strong; if we must be strong we must come together; if we must come together we can only do so through the system of organization.”

UNIA branches all over the world tried to be self- reliant in whatever ways they could. They started co operative businesses, opened schools and agitated for political independence and self-determination.
The third major feature of Marcus’ ideology was what he called nationhood. By 1918, as we have seen, LiberiaEthiopia were the only independent Black countries left in the whole world. Marcus felt strongly that Africans the world over would never be really respected until there was a strong Black nation, preferably on the African continent. Such a strong nation could offer economic, diplomatic, military and moral support to Africans, wherever they might be. Marcus knew from his travels that wherever Europeans and North Americans went, their countries’ ambassadors and consuls were available to lend a hand in case of emergency. He could find no similar protection for traveling Africans.

The Negro Factories Corporation was one of the ways by which the UNIA tried to become self-reliant. It operated a chain of businesses in Harlem. These in included restaurants, groceries, laundries, a factory making Black dolls for children, a hat factory, printing press, tailoring establishment, a trucking business and a hotel. The Negro Factories Corporation and other agencies of the UNIA employed over a thousand people around New York

The Negro World, a weekly newspaper, was Marcus’ most successful publication. It began in the autumn of 1918 and was published up to 1933. Within a few years it became the most widely distributed Black newspaper in the world. English was its main language but sections were also printed in Spanish and French. The front page of each issue usually carried a stirring message from Marcus Garvey. UNIA members all over the world read and discussed these messages at their weekly meetings, much the same way that Christians read the Gospel at church services on the Sabbath. The British, French and other colonial rulers in Africa and the West Indies were very fearful of the Negro World. They did not take kindly to Marcus’ preaching of race pride and anti-colonialism. They therefore banned the paper in such places as Trinidad, British Honduras (Belize), British Guiana (Guyana), the Gold Coast (Ghana), Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and elsewhere, including all the French African colonies. Seamen usually smuggled the paper in wherever it was banned. Persons found with it in these countries were liable to be fined or imprisoned. In Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1927 an African was given life imprisonment for importing a few copies of the Negro World. lie was later released when protesting Africans took their case all the way to the British parliament. Marcus told the British that they were wasting their time by trying to suppress his newspaper. Speak ing in May 1920 he said, “I think the British Government made a great mistake when they suppressed the Negro World, because they only opened the eyes of those sleeping West Indian Negroes to a realization that the government was trying to keep something from them, to keep them in darkness about the great progress of Negroes in the outer world.”

One of the most spectacular events of 1919 came in October that year, when the Black Star Line Steamship Corporation launched its first ship, the Yarmouth. The Black Star Line was the brainchild of Marcus Garvey and the UNIA. For Black people to own a modern shipping company at that point in history seemed like an impossible dream to many. White newspapers splashed the news in disbelief all over the world. Black people rejoiced, for this event seemed to provide a ray of hope for their mostly dreary situation. The Black Star Line was designed to show what self-reliance could do. It was financed with money from its shareholders, all of whom were Black and most of whom were UNIA members. The Line also offered an alternative to the racism practiced by white shipping companies. Black passengers were usually segregated in those days. A passenger on the British ship Maraval, sailing from Trinidad to New York via Grenada, reported that Black passengers were only allowed to eat after the whites had finished. On the Black Star Line, passengers would be subjected to no such indignities. It was not easy to find qualified Black officers in 1919 and the Black Star Line was forced to hire some whites, including captains. For its first ship, however, Marcus was able to hire as captain one of the few Black men in the world with the necessary master’s license. This was Captain Joshua Cockburn, a native of the Bahamas who had sailed in Nigerian and other African waters for many years.

It was a proud UNIA which renamed the Yarmouth, the Frederick Douglass, in honour of the 19th century Afro-American leader. Many thousand Garveyites and UNIA sympathizers turned up at the
135th Street
dock in Harlem to witness the ship’s launching on October 31, 1919. The Frederick Douglass travelled to Cuba, JamaicaPanama on its first trip. A second and third trip followed, also to West Indian, Central American and United States ports. The Black Star Line acquired a second vessel, the Shadyside, in April 1920. This was an excursion boat and took passengers on summer cruises up and down New York’s Hudson River. While anchored for the winter it sank in a snow storm. The line’s third ship was the Kenawha, which made its maiden voyage in June 1920. The UNIA renamed this ship the Antonio Maceo, after the Black general of Cuba’s struggle for independence. In March 1921 the Antonio Macco sailed from New York to Cuba and Jamaica. On its return voyage it broke down and was abandoned near Antilla, Cuba.

A fourth ship was negotiated for but never obtained, even though the company paid down over $20,000.00 on it. The Black Star Line had planned to name this ship after the famous Philhis (often spelt “Phyllis”) Wheatley. Wheatley was born in Africa around 1753 and while still a girl was transported to the United States as a slave. She later became one of Afro earliest and most celebrated poets. The company had big plans for the Phyllis Wheatley. It was to foster trade between Afro the Caribbean and Africa. Marcus wanted its captain to be Hugh Mulzac, a native of Union Island in the Grenadines near St. Vincent. Mulzac had already served as an officer on the Frederick Douglass. During World War II he became the first Afro to captain a ship in the United StatesNew York to Monrovia, Liberia via Cuba, the Dominican Republic, St. Kitts, Dominica, Barbados, Trinidad and British Guiana (Guyana).

Everywhere that the Black Star Line ships went they were greeted by scenes of wild enthusiasm. Iii Havana, Cuba, a Black Star Line vessel was showered with flowers and fruit. In Bocas del Toro, Panama thousands of workers deserted their jobs for a day to see the Frederick Douglass. They brought gifts of flowers and fruit and danced on the ship’s decks. In South Carolina, U.S.A., people chartered a special train to take them to the port of Charleston when a Black Star Line ship stopped there Yet, the Black Star Line, after its spectacular initial success, failed in the end. The persons, both Black and white, who took part in negotiations for the ships, defrauded the company of tens of thou sands of dollars. The white officers also deliberately wrecked the ships’ engines, causing thousands of dollars worth of unnecessary repairs. Some of the line’s Black employees were also dishonest and stole the company’s money.

The year 1919 was one of much upheaval in the West Indies. Here, too, the World War had awakened people to their awful condition. Here, too, people were un patient with the system governing them and were anxious for a change. At the beginning of the war in 1914, West Indians of all races had rushed to volunteer for military service. Whites were accepted but Blacks were not. The British authorities did not want Afro-West Indians fighting in what some of them referred to as a white man’s war. After a while a special force, the British West Indies Regiment, was created for Black West Indians. Though the soldiers were Black, none but whites could be officers. Blacks could rise no higher than sergeant. The West Indian soldiers were badly treated. They were used mainly as labourers and very few saw any real combat. In 1918 in a place called Taranto in Italy, they were made to clean the latrines of Italian labourers. This was too much for the West Indians to bear and they mutinied, assaulting some white officers in the process. One of the mutineers was executed by the British and many were imprisoned.

Many of these soldiers became ardent Garveyites on their return home. Garvey, in his call for self-reliance, race pride, an end to white colonialism and an independent Black nation, was saying the things that these soldiers felt in their hearts, for the war had made them bitter against their white rulers. Many workers and some of the more politically conscious members of the Black middle class also became Garveyites. The British authorities deported UNIA organizers and burned copies of the Negro World when they could, but there was no stopping the spread of Garveyism. Several colonies erupted into violence in 1919, including Jamaica, Grenada, British Honduras (Belize) and Trinidad and Tobago. In British Honduras one of the leaders of the popular movement was Samuel 1-laynes, an ex-sergeant of the British West Indies Regiment. In Trinidad a strike by dockworkers early in December 1919 brought the country to a standstill. British troops were called in and several Trinidadians and Tobagonians were killed. The Trinidad Working- men’s Association led the struggle here. Most of its top leaders and many of its members also belonged to the Universal Negro Improvement Association.

By late 1919 Marcus Garvey’s name was known throughout the world. The time was now ripe to begin work on an event every bit as spectacular as the launching of the Black Star Line had been. Marcus began planning for a massive assembly which would bring together representatives of all the world’s African peoples. The call went out to UNIA branches and other organizations all over the world to select delegates for this grand event, the First International Convention of the Negro Peoples of the World. Marcus’ worldwide popularity was now so great that organizations far and wide answered his call. Delegates, some of them very prominent members of their home communities, poured into New York for the convention, which was held from August 1st to 31st, 1920. From Liberia and South Africa they came, from England and Canada, from Trinidad and Panama, and from many other countries. Fully 25,000 Black people jammed Madison Square Garden to capacity and overflowed into the surrounding New York streets for the opening ceremony. No convention in Afro- American history has ever been bigger, up to the present day.
The convention parade stretched ten miles, with delegates marching ten abreast.

 Marcus rode in an open car in a military uniform and plumed hat, similar to the type worn by the leaders of powerful nations at that time. The UNIA by now had sprouted several auxiliaries and they added colour to the march. There were the Universal African Legions, a military outfit on horseback and on foot. The men and women of the African Motor Corps, another military auxiliary, were also on parade. The Black Cross Nurses were there in their long white dresses, white stockings and shoes and white headties bearing a black cross. The officers and crew of the Black Star Line were on parade too, in their naval uniforms, and so were the boys and girls of the UNIA Juveniles, the youth arm of the organization. Several brass bands provided music, including the Black Star Line band. Many of the marchers carried banners proclaiming the ideas and opinions of Garvey. Among them one could see the following—”Africa for Africans;” “All Men Were Created Equal;” “Down With Lynching;” “Toussaint L’Ouverture Was An Abler Soldier Than Napoleon;” and “Negroes Fought in Europe and Can Fight in Africa.” After the opening session the convention moved to Liberty Hall in Harlem.

Since African peoples had hardly a nation they could call their own, the UNIA now tried to act as a model of what the future African nation might be. The convention was seen as a parliament of African peoples. The delegates elected Garvey Provisional President of Africa, even as other colonized peoples have always elected provisional governments in exile while fighting for their independence. Garvey also received the title of President General and Administrator of the UNIA. The convention also elected a ceremonial head or potentate. The potentate was the equivalent of a monarch in some countries, or a governor general in others, or a president in those republics where the prime minister is the real head of government. The UNIA potentate was in theory above Garvey, the president general, but only for ceremonial purposes. First potentate was Gabriel Johnson, mayor of Monrovia, Liberia. Twenty-one high officers were elected in all. Among the other posts were the Leader of the American Negroes; International Organizer; Surgeon General; Leader of the Eastern Province of the West Indies, South and Central America; Chaplain General; Auditor General; Counsel General; Minister of Labour and Industry; and Minister of the Legions. Delegates reported to the convention on the problems faced in their home communities.

Some from the African continent were heard in private or used fictitious names, since they feared victimization when they returned home. Many of the delegates’ grievances were contained in the Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World, adopted midway through the convention. “Be it Resolved,” the document began, “That the Negro people of the world, through their chosen representatives in convention assembled in Liberty Hall . . . protest against the wrongs and injustices they are suffering at the hands of their white brethren, and state what they deem their fair and just rights, as well as the treatment they propose to demand of all men in the future.” The preamble complained of such crimes as lynching in the United States, noting that “such brutal and inhuman treatment is even practiced upon our women.” In the West Indies, it observed, “Negroes are secretly and cunningly discriminated against, and denied those fuller rights in government to which white citizens are appointed, nominated and elected.” The preamble ended with the following forceful statement—”Against all such inhuman, unchristian and uncivilized treatment we here and now emphatically protest,  and invoke the condemnation of all mankind.” The main portion of the declaration contained - fifty-four demands.

Among them were the following—all persons of African descent anywhere in the world should be accepted as “free citizens of Africa, the Motherland. . . ;“ Africans must set out to win justice “by whatsoever means possible;” Blacks must not be tried by all-white judges and juries; use of the word “nigger” must cease; “Negro” must be written with a capital “N;” Black History must be taught to Black children; Blacks must not be excluded from legislative assemblies—there must be no taxation without representation; colonial governments must stop the flogging and whipping of Africans as punishment for crime; the practice of shaving the heads of Black prisoners, and especially women, must be stopped. With Black women still widely dishonored and taken advantage of despite the end of slavery, the delegates swore that “With the help of Almighty God, we declare ourselves the sworn protectors of the honor and virtue of our women and children, and pledge our lives for their protection and defense everywhere and under all circumstances from wrongs and outrages.”

The convention also demanded that Blacks must not fight in white wars, except in certain exceptional situations. On a more positive note, the declaration demanded “Africa for the Africans at home and abroad.” The colours red, black and green (still very popular today) were declared to be the colours of the African race and the “Universal Ethiopian Anthem” was adopted as its anthem. Ethiopia here, as in the Bible, referred to Africa in general. The anthem began,

Ethiopia, thou land of our fathers,
Thou land where the gods loved to be,
As storm cloud at night suddenly gathers
Our armies come rushing to thee.

A total of eight international conventions were held. Five took place in the United States (1920, 1921, 1922, 1924 and 1926). Two took place in Kingston, Jamaica (1929 and 1934). The last one was held in Toronto, Canada, in 1938.

Oniy people of African descent were admitted to UNIA membership. But the fact that other persons could not join did not make it a racist organization. This was a period of great national struggles, when colonized and subjugated peoples all over the world were becoming organized for struggle. 1 Gandhi, leader of the Indians, first in South Africa and later in India itself, waged a similar struggle. So did Sun Yat Sen of China, who was ably assisted by Eugene Chen, his Trinidad-born foreign minister. Eamon de Valera led a similar struggle of the Irish against the English and in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh later led a similar fight against first the Japanese, then the French and finally the United States. All of these leaders, like Garvey, were concerned principally, though not only, with their own racial or national group. Garvey differed from the others in that he tried harder to unify his race on a wider international scale. He was also unique in that he operated primarily from a country (the United States) where his people were in a minority and had never had political control.
Garvey and the UNIA were always quick to pro vide moral support for struggling peoples of other races. On the death of the Russian leader, V. I. Lenin, in 1924, Garvey sent a cable to Moscow praising Lenin for his efforts on behalf of his own people. The Negro World  was full of articles showing support for the Indian struggle under Gandhi. Garvey also regularly supported the Irish. The Third World leader who had the closest connection to the UNIA, however, was Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam. Ho in his youth had been a seaman and he once spent a few months in New York. The Garvey movement interested him greatly and he regularly attended UNIA meetings.

The League of Nations was a forerunner of the United Nations and was set up in 1919 after the First World War. In his efforts to further the cause of African peo ples, Garvey sent several delegations to the League. Germany’s African colonies had been taken away by the victorious nations after the World War and Garvey was especially anxious that these colonies should be handed over to Black rule. A UNIA representative had first lobbied for this at the Paris Peace Confer ence which followed the war in 1919. UNIA delegations put this and other requests to the League of Nations in 1922, 1923, 1928 and 1931. Garvey him self was the UNIA representative on the last two occasions. The League never agreed to these requests.

Marcus went through four major experiences in his personal life between 1918 and 1922. He was almost killed, got himself married, divorced his wife and married a second time. One day in October 1919 a man walked into the UNIA office and asked to see Marcus Garvey. When Marcus appeared there was a brief conversation be fore the stranger whipped out a gun and fired four shots. Two of the shots missed Marcus, but one hit him in the head and another got him in the leg. He was rushed to Harlem Hospital where the wounds were happily found to be superficial. The would-be assassin, one George Tyler, was taken to jail but died there under mysterious circumstances. It was widely believed that he had been hired by an influential person or persons to kill Garvey, and that he was him self killed before he could tell his story in court.
Marcus was married not long after this, on December 25, 1919 in Liberty Hall, Harlem. His bride was Amy Ashwood, the seventeen year old girl he had met in Jamaica back in 1914. She had gone off to Panama in 1916 but had come to New York late in 1918. From that period on she had again become very active in the UNIA. Marcus and Amy Ashwood went on a three week honeymoon to Canada, but the marriage was over in less than two months. Marcus accused her of infidelity, dishonesty and various other things. She made similar accusations against Marcus. Marcus divorced Amy Ashwood in June 1922 while she was away in England. One month later he married another Amy, this time Amy Jacques. The two Amys had been best friends from their teenage years in Jamaica and Amy Jacques, wife No. 2, had actually been chief bridesmaid at Amy Ashwood’s wedding.

The second marriage lasted until Marcus’ death in 1940. It was a successful marriage, despite Marcus’ very busy schedule. His work left him with less time for family life than most people have. Amy Jacques proved a perfect spouse for someone in his position. She began her association with Marcus in 1919 as his private secretary. From that point on she immersed herself fully in the work of the organization. She traveled around North America, Europe, Central America and the Caribbean with Marcus on his lecture tours. She was an excellent speaker herself and sometimes addressed UNIA meetings. When Garvey was jailed in the United States (for reasons which will be discussed in Chapter 9), Amy Jacques edited the now famous collection of his articles and speeches which she called The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, or, Africa for the Africans. In 1927, with Marcus still in jail, she published two books of his poetry. Amy Jacques also tried her hand at writing essays and short stories. For a time she edited the women’s page of the UNIA’s weekly newspaper, the Negro World. I and Amy Jacques had two sons. In Harlem the Garveys lived comfortably though modestly in an apartment not far from the UNIA offices. The furnishings included a large number of books and African art objects. Marcus’ sister, Indiana, and her husband shared the apartment for a short time. 1\Iarcus never owned a car in the United States. In everyday life he dressed conservatively, even care lessly, though on ceremonial occasions it was quite a different story. For conventions, parades and the like he could be resplendent in military uniform and plumed hat, or in the colourful robes of high office.

        Enemies within and without

By the early 1920s it was clear to all who had eyes to see that the Garvey movement was the biggest and most powerful organization of its kind in history. Others had dreamed before of uniting Africans the world over into one vast organization, but none had succeeded the way Marcus had. The UNIA was truly a provisional nation, as Marcus called it. It had a ceremonial head in its potentate, an executive head in Marcus, an industrial sector, the beginnings of an army, a small diplomatic service, ample financial re sources, its own media and a worldwide membership. The one thing it lacked, which every nation needs, was an area of land where it could set up an independent government. That is why Garvey wanted to move his headquarters to Liberia, the only easily accessible place in Africa at the time. Marcus’ very success turned out to be a big problem, for it attracted the hostility of nations, organizations and individuals who, for various reasons, felt threatened by his success. These included the British and United States governments, the Communist International and certain Black leaders who disagreed with his philosophy.

Many millions of the people who Marcus organized, influenced and struggled for, were the colonized subjects of Britain. And it was not in Britain’s interest to encourage people who desired to be free of colonial ism. Much of the British hostility to the UNIA has already been seen. British governors and their agents banned the Negro World in their African and West Indian colonies, jailed and deported Garveyites and denied them entry into some countries. Even in independent countries like Costa Rica, South Africa, Panama, Liberia and the United States, British diplomats spied on the UNIA and sometimes encouraged the local authorities to move against it. In New York, for example, the British consul general in 1923 got together with some anti-Garvey West Indians to publish the British West Indian Review. The purpose of this magazine was to counteract Garvey’s message and stimulate loyalty to the British king and country.

The United States government did not like Garvey’s activities either. From as early as 1917, undercover police began watching his movements. Marcus said that George Tyler, the man who tried to kill him in 1919, announced that he had been sent by Edwin P.Kilroe, an assistant district attorney who had given Marcus some trouble. From 1919 the U.S. officials began looking for a way to deport him, but they needed a suitable pre text, and it was a few more years before they found one. Meanwhile in 1921 Marcus left the United States for a short tour of the West Indies and Central America. He almost did not make it back, for United States embassies and consulates refused to give him a reentry visa. It was five months before he managed to get back in. He was detained by the immigration authorities when he arrived in New Orleans but they eventually let him go after he sent telegrams to the United States president and secretary of state.
Marcus and the UNIA were harassed in various other ways. The authorities liked to arrest him every year in the middle of his international conventions. The charges usually came to nothing. Liberty Halls were sometimes raided by police for one reason or another. People were killed during at least one such raid. Some influential North American newspapers were also very hostile to the UNIA and alternated between attacking Marcus and making fun of him.

The earliest communist parties in the U.S.A. were founded in 1919, just as Marcus was taking off into world prominence. Communist parties everywhere have as a high priority the championing of the cause of workers and peasants. Those in the United States were no exception. Throughout the 1920s, however, they failed to attract any significant number of Black workers and peasants, or any other Black persons for that matter. The UNIA on the other hand had more lack workers and peasants in it than any other political organization in the United States. The communists therefore figured that in order to get to the Black masses they would have to find some way into or around the UNIA. Throughout the 1920s they refused to leave Garvey alone. UNIA international conventions were always open to fraternal delegates from other organizations and so in 1921, the communist-dominated African Blood Brotherhood sent some representatives to attend. These Black communists then brought in a white woman to address the convention. She told them that Russia, like the UNIA, desired a free Africa. The UNIA, she said, would be welcome in Moscow. She then called on Marcus to come out in support of the communist program, but he politely declined to commit himself. He had no especial hostility towards the communist program, and he praised the Russian revolutionary leaders, V.1. Lenin and Leon Trotsky. But he felt strongly that Africans should be a strong, self-reliant force in the world and not merely an appendage to someone else’s struggle.

Communists believed that class was more important than race. Therefore Afro-American workers should unite with white workers first, rather than with other Blacks on the basis of race. Garvey felt that in a racist country, even white workers were so infected with racism that it would be a long time before Blacks could meaningfully unite with them merely on the basis of a similar class background. He pointed out that most lynch mobs were composed of white workers. White United States workers at that time also largely prevented Black workers from joining their trade unions. The Communist Party of the U.S.A. made many other attempts to woo Garvey or entice away his followers. At times when these attempts failed they became frustrated and attacked him bitterly. Communist newspapers and magazines, both in the United States and in other countries, were full of such at tacks. They liked to call him names like “faker” and “misleader.” Communists and Garveyites also fought each other on the streets of Harlem. The struggle between Garveyites and communists reached other countries too, since both the UNIA and the Communist International (world communist movement) existed around the globe. In South Africa Garveyites drove communists out of the leadership of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union.

Marcus was sure that the United States government planted spies in his organization. In addition, there were those who could not resist the temptation to steal. Millions of dollars passed through the UNIA and its subsidiaries, like the Black Star Line and the Negro Factories Corporation. Dishonest employees siphoned off some of this money. Several of these employees were brought before the courts by the UNIA but they were often dealt with leniently, for the courts were not particularly fond of Marcus Garvey. Commenting on the enemies within, Marcus said, “In the fight to reach the top the oppressed have always been encumbered by the traitors of their own race, made up of those of little faith and those who are generally susceptible to bribery for the selling out of the rights of their own people.”

There was also the problem of disgruntled former UNIA members and employees who had been expelled from the organization or dismissed from their jobs for one reason or another. These sometimes tried to sabotage Garvey’s efforts. One of the most dangerous was Samuel Augustus Duncan, a United States immigrant from St. Kitts. Duncan had been president of one of the early attempts to set up a New York UNIA branch in 1918. He had fallen out with Marcus after the latter’s refusal to have the UNIA turned into an auxiliary of a political party. In 1920 Duncan wrote the governors of the British West Indian and African colonies as well as the South African authorities. He told them that the UNIA was “not only anti- white and anti-British but was engaged in the most destructive and pernicious propaganda to create disturbance between white and colored people in the British possessions.” Agents, he said, had left the United States to quietly spread Garveyism in the West Indies. DuncanUnited States or the Panama Canal. Such persons might well be Garveyites. The British took Duncan’s letter very seriously. Their consul general in New York refused passports to all British West Indians wishing to visit their home-lands unless they first denounced Garvey. The South Africans, too, placed a ban on Afro-Americans and Afro-West Indians wishing to enter that country.

Marcus, in his emphasis on race first, self-reliance and nationhood, and in his concern for Africa, belonged to a school of thought which over the years had come to be known as Black nationalism. The traditional rivals of the Black nationalists, especially in Afro- America, were the integrationists. Afro-American integrationists believed that their destiny was bound up in the United States. Their main goal was to try and win acceptance by white Americans and to enter the mainstream of United States life. Unlike Marcus, who’s UNIA was restricted to persons of African de scent, the integrationists preferred to work in inter racial organizations. Unlike Marcus, they were not preoccupied with any thoughts about a Black nation in Africa. They wanted to be part of an integrated nation in North America.

There were several integrationist organizations, the most powerful of which was the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). This was formed in 1909 by liberal white people. Most of its national executive when Marcus arrived in the United States was white. Its major Black spokesman was Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, one of Afro-America’s most famous scholars. The integrationists were a powerful group. They owned many Black newspapers and often had the ear of influential whites in government, publishing and other areas. They waged a relentless campaign against Marcus Garvey and the UNIA. They disliked Garvey for the differences in ideology stated above and for other reasons too. One thing they did not like was his style. He struck them as a rabble rouser, appealing as he did directly to the poor and often less well-educated masses. They were used to quieter, more genteel behaviour. And Garvey wore a military uniform and a plumed hat on his parades. They could not stomach that. It seemed to them that the man was making a fool of himself. Yet they did not mind when European presidents, governors and diplomats wore similarly colourful attire. They themselves sported flashy costumes on the parades for their fraternal organizations and secret societies. More importantly, Garvey’s success seemed to show up their own inability to mobilize the mass of Afro-Americans. They could not understand how come a man who had arrived penniless in the United States in 1916, could launch a Black Star Line in 1919, even though he refused to accept money from whites. They had less to show for the white philanthropy they received. They also could not understand how such a man, within four short years of his arrival, could assemble 25,000 people in Madison Square Garden.

Even though some of the integrationists were- interested in Africa, that continent was nowhere near the top of their list of priorities. They thought that Marcus was wasting his time trying to establish the UNIA in Africa. For they were optimistic that racial discrimination in the United States would end in another fifty years or so. Marcus, on the other hand, feared that in a century or two, Afro-Americans might be wiped out if they were not careful. Two prominent integrationists actually made fun of Marcus because of his colour and physical features. W. E. B. DuBois described him as “A little, fat black man, ugly, but with intelligent eyes and a big head... .“ Rev. Robert W. Bagnall, a high-ranking Black NAACP official, called him “A Jamaican Negro of unmixed stock, squat, stocky, fat and sleek with protruding jaws, and heavy jowls, small bright pig-like eyes and rather bulldog-like face.” The integrationist press attacked Marcus bitterly, month in and month out. The Negro World replied in equal measure. Garvey’s Negro World reply to DuBois’ insults, for example, was headlined, “W.E. BURGHARDT DU BOIS AS A HATER OF DARK PEOPLE: Calls His Own Race ‘Black and Ugly,’ Judging From the White Man’s Standard of Beauty.” In 1922 the integrationists launched a fierce campaign entitled, “Marcus Garvey Must Go!!!” They held public meetings and distributed leaflets denouncing Marcus, all over the United States and Canada. In January 1923 eight of their leaders wrote the attorney general of the United States calling for Garvey’s arrest and deportation. Their letter, and their campaign generally, influenced the government which was at the time getting ready to prosecute Garvey for alleged mail fraud.

The Marcus Garvey Must Go campaign began after Marcus was charged by the United States with using the mails to defraud, but before the matter went to court. The campaign did great damage to his chances of a fair trial. The letter of the eight to the attorney general had made no bones about their desire to see Garvey. convicted. “The UNIA,” the eight wrote, “is composed chiefly of the most primitive and ignorant element of West Indian and American Negroes.” They called upon the attorney general to break up the UNIA and convict its leader. Marcus called this letter “the greatest bit of treachery and wickedness that any group of Negroes could be capable of.” “Like the good old darkey,” he said, “they believe they have some news to tell and they are telling it for all it is worth. . . .“The trial of Marcus Garvey took place in 1923 and lasted for a month. The judge, Julian Mack, admitted that he was a member of the NAACP but still insisted on trying the case. The NAACP was of course deeply involved in the Marcus Garvey Must Go effort.

Three other Black Star Line officials were indicted along with Marcus, but as the trial progressed it became evident that Marcus himself was the only defendant that the government wished earnestly to see behind bars. To add to his problems, Marcus dismissed his lawyer early on. He claimed that his lawyer had worked out a deal with the judge whereby Marcus would plead guilty and hope for a light sentence. Thereafter Marcus acted as his own lawyer. But he was no lawyer, and probably hurt his case by trying to play lawyer before a white judge, prosecutor and jury, some or all of whom may have been prejudiced against him from the start.

The government’s case was that Marcus Garvey, as president of the Black Star Line, was responsible for circulars and advertisements claiming that the line was sure to make a profit. The line, of course, eventually folded. The government sought to prove that Marcus knowingly misled shareholders into expecting profits when he knew that there would not be any. Marcus argued that companies fail every day and the fact that they all promise profits does not make them fraudulent. He tried to show how some of his subordinates had deliberately sabotaged the ships and stolen huge sums of money. Without this thievery and sabotage the line might well have been able to pay dividends. One or two former employees, including Captain Joshua Cockburn, even admitted their dis honest acts.

When it came to proving that Marcus had actually been responsible for sending fraudulent circulars through the mail, the government could do no better than produce an empty envelope bearing a Black Star Line stamp and addressed to a former shareholder. The court simply presumed that the envelope was authentic and that certain circulars had been in it. The result of the trial was a conviction for Marcus and acquittal for his three co-defendants. The prosecutor showed his lack of interest in the co-defendants in his address to the jury. He asked them, “Gentle men, will you let the tiger loose?” The tiger was Garvey. The prosecutor seemed momentarily to forget that there were other defendants in the case. Judge Mack, who had clashed with Marcus through out the long trial, ended matters by imposing the maximum imprisonment of five years, plus the maxi mum fine of $1,000, plus the entire costs of the case. But that was not all. Even though he appealed, Mar cus was kept in jail for three months before being granted bail.

As the police vehicle bore him to jail at the end of the trial, several hundred of his supporters created a scene outside the courthouse. They prayed and implemented and some tried to block the vehicle. There was a lot of wild talk in the newspapers about the Universal African Legions planning some military action to free Garvey, but nothing of the sort took place. At one point during the trial the judge had stopped proceedings to try Charles Lennon, a Garveyite who was accused of threatening prosecution witnesses. Lennon protested his innocence but was sentenced to two months in jail. When Marcus was finally released on bail, his supporters showed their confidence in him by putting up enough money to launch a new shipping line, the Black Cross Navigation and Trading Company. This line purchased the General Goethals, which it re named the Booker T. Washington. This ship was christened in January 1925 and journeyed to Cuba, Jamaica and Panama. Marcus lost his appeal and was jailed in February 1925 and the ship had to be sold to pay debts on its return to New York.

Marcus was imprisoned at Atlanta penitentiary. UNIA members and many non-members too, immediately launched a massive worldwide effort to secure his release. Telegrams, letters and petitions bearing hundreds of thousands of signatures poured into various United States government departments. Churches regularly held “Marcus Garvey Sundays.” In South Africa the African National Congress called for his release. In Moscow the International Peasants’ Council did likewise. In Harlem 150,000 people turned out for a demonstration and rally demanding the UNIA leader’s release. Jamaicans celebrated a “Garvey Release Week” in 1927. There were open air meetings as well as large indoor meetings at the Kingston Liberty Hall (

76 King Street
) and the Ward Theatre. H.A.L. Simpson, a member of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation Council, drafted a petition which was sent off to the president of the United States. Simpson had been one of Garvey’s fellow members of the National Club in 1909. He later became a member of the legislative council and mayor of the corporate area.

In jail meanwhile, Marcus consoled himself by writing two books of poems, The Tragedy of White Injustice and Selections from the Poetic Meditations of Marcus Garvey. He also tried to hold together his organization, but schisms appeared, especially at headquarters in New York, as various factions began to struggle for power in their leader’s absence. The clamour for Garvey’s release eventually be came so insistent that in November 1927 President Calvin Coolidge commuted the sentence to take effect immediately. The authorities deported him, however, in a move that may have been illegal. They did not even allow him a few days in New York to straighten out his affairs. He was taken to the port of New Orleans and shipped off to Jamaica via Panama. Five thousand of his supporters gathered in the rain at the dock on December 2, 1927 to see him off. Marcus addressed them from the deck of the Saramacca. He said, “I was convicted not because anyone was defrauded in the temporary failure of the Black Star Line, brought about by others, but because I talked about Africa and about its redemption. . .

He asked his followers to keep the faith and he promised to continue his life’s work. “I live and die for Africa
The crowd sang the UNIA hymn, “God Bless Our President,” as the Saramacca bore their leader away from those United States, where he had achieved a glory not often matched and where his suffering had likewise been great. Marcus Garvey never set foot in the United States again. The nearest he came to revisiting his old stomping ground was in 1937, when a ship in which he was traveling from Canada to the West Indies stopped at Boston. A delegation of local Garveyites came on board, but he was not permitted to leave the ship.

                           Marcus Letter

.All I have I have given to you. I have sacrificed my home and my loving wife for you. I entrust her to your charge, to protect and defend her in my absence. She is the bravest little woman I know. She has suffered and sacrificed with me for you; therefore, please do not desert her in this dismal hour, when she stands alone. I have left her penniless and helpless to face the world, because I gave all, but her courage is great, and I know she will hold up for you and me.
After my enemies are satisfied, in life or death I shall come back to you to serve even as I have served before. In life I shall be the same; in death I shall be a terror to the foes of Negro liberty. If death has power, then count on me in death to be the real Marcus Garvey I would like to be. I may come in an earthquake, or a cyclone, or plague, or pestilence, or as God would have me, then be assured that I shall never desert you and make your enemies triumph over you. Would I not go to hell a million times for you? Would I not like Macbeth’s ghost, walk the earth forever for you? Would I not lose the whole world and eternity for you? Would I not cry forever before the footstool of the Lord Omnipo tent for you? Would I not die a million deaths for you? Then, why be sad? Cheer up, and be assured that if it takes a million years the sins of our enemies shall visit the millionth generation of those that hinder and oppress us.
Remember that I have sworn by you and my God to serve to the end of all time, the wreck of matter and the crash of worlds. The enemies think I am defeated. Did the Germans defeat the French in 1870? Did Napoleon really conquer Europe? If so, then I am defeated, but I tell you the world shall hear from my principles, even two thousand years hence. I am willing to wait on time for my satisfaction and the retribution of my enemies. Observe my enemies and their children and posterity, and one day you shall see retribution settling around them.
If I die in Atlanta my work shall live, in the physical or spiritual to see the day of Africa’s glory. When I am dead wrap the mantle of the Red, Black and Green around me, for in the new life I shall rise with God’s grace and blessing to lead the millions up the heights of triumph with the colors that you all know. Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm, look for me all around you,for, with God’s grace I shall come and bring with me countless millions of Black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for Liberty, Freedom and Life.
The civilization of today is gone drunk and crazy with its power and by such it seeks through injustice, fraud and lies to crush the unfortunate. But if I am apparently crushed by the system of influence and misdirected power, my cause shall rise again to plague the conscience of the corrupt. For lam satisfied, and for you, I repeat, Jam glad to suffer and even die. Again I say, cheer up,for better days are ahead. I shall write the history that will inspire the millions that are coming and leave the posterity of our enemies to reckon with the hosts for the deeds of their fathers.
With God’s dearest blessings, I leave you for awhile.

Use your brain; it's not them killin' us it's us killin' us. We ain't never gonna leave this planet unless we decide to do so. Use your brain--or be a victim. Tupac Shakur


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