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Marcus Garvey once said “Emancipate yourself form mental slavery none but ourselves can free our mind.” In this book readers have the opportunity to learn about one of the greatest Civil rights Activist Marcus Garvey. One can say that he was the spark that lit the fuse for racial equality in the United States. The book Marcus Garvey walks readers through the Early Life of Marcus Garvey and also some of his achievements and failures through his life and his influence on black people across the globe.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. was born on August 17, 1887 in St. Ann’s Bay Jamaica. He was the youngest child of born to Marcus Sr. and Jane Richards. Marcus Sr. taught his son to be strong and brave and to never succumb to superior forces if he believed he was right. That was the mentality that would later mold Marcus into an iconic revolutionary. Young Marcus did not attend school for very long. Garvey’s family was very poor so to help support them he become a printer’s apprentice at the age of 14. He then traveled to Kingston, Jamaica where he worked for several years as a printer for a local newspaper. Marcus would developed key skills that would launch him on the path to greatness.
After moving to Kingston, Gravy began to take an interest in political and social matters and was also involved in an unsuccessful union strike. Garvey enjoyed the political side of life and the ability to effect change. A self-educated young man, Marcus Gravey founded the Universal Negro improvement Association, Garveys work inspired may people across Central America. He encouraged black people to establish a country and “absolute government of their own.” He particularly had an interest in African-Americans. He had heard the stories of how African Americans where treated in the United States and he knew that it had to change, however for that reason he knew he wasn’t ready to tackle America yet. He believed that his movement wasn’t yet strong enough to tackle the brutality of the government in America. In 1912, for reasons unknown he decided to return to Jamaica and left again a year later to move to England.
While in England, Garvey worked with Duse Mohamed Alie, in London. Ali had an influential Pan-African journal, “The African Times and Orient Review.” While in England Garvey also traveled to many different European countries all while spreading his education about how the systems of Europe governments worked. He believed the most systems in the European governments only worked for the Europeans. He encouraged blacks to either be a part of the government or return home to Africa. After working in various places over the years Garvey felt that it was time to move his influence to what he considered, the most dangerous place, the United States.
In 1916, Booker T. Washington invited Marcus Garvey to come to the United States. He arrived at the beginning of the New Negro Era. Garvey considered that to be the perfect time to be in the U.S. He felt like that was the best time to really jump start change in America. The movement had no real leader at the time and Garvey was very confident that he could lead them. Garvey settled in New York City and opened up a chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, which further induced the fight for equality among African Americans. In August 1920, U.N.I.A held its first International Convention at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Before a crowd of 25,000 people from all over world, Marcus Garvey spoke of having pride in African history and culture. Many found his words inspiring, but not all. Some established black leaders found his separatist philosophy ill-conceived. W.E.B. Du Bois, a prominent black leader and officer of the N.A.A.C.P. called Garvey, “the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America.” Garvey felt Du Bois was an agent of the white elite. This did not stop Garvey he knew that not everyone would agree with his beliefs but he continued to educate the African American people. With help from many willing successful African Americans, in 1919 Garvey launched “The Black Star Line. “
The Black Star Line was a shipping line for black trade and transportation. Garvey name his first ship Yarmouth. The ship transported black passenger and goods between America, the Caribbean and Africa. It also served as a simple of black enterprise. Garvey wanted to make sure black people, specifically African Americans, knew that they had other options and, they did not have to stay in their current nation. He wanted to give black people a way back home to Africa or to introduce them to a better place, Garvey also started the Negros Factories Association, a series of companies that would manufacture marketable commodities in every big industrial center in the Western hemisphere and Africa. He also wanted to help further black businessmen in these countries by transporting goods for them and encouraging black people to buy form other black people across the world. This would help strengthen black people and also keep money within the black communities.
Many of the ships were sabotaged by the Bureau of investigation under the direction of J Edgar Hoover. The “Yarmouth’s” first commission was to transport a cargo of whiskey out of the U.S. and into Cuba before the start of Prohibition. The “Yarmouth” sat stranded on the docks of Havana, and was losing money for weeks. Ships began to mysteriously come up short in cargo and become damaged. As a business venture, the Black Star Line quickly became a disaster. Garvey’s supporters started to dwindle because in many cases they gave their life’s savings to support him. The company’s losses were as high as $1.25 million, and Garvey could not afford to purchase other ships.
In 1922, Marcus Garvey and three other U.N.I.A officials were charged with mail fraud involving the Black Star Line. The trial records indicate several injustices occurred in the prosecution of the case. The shipping line’s books contained many accounting errors. In 1923, Garvey was convicted and sentenced to prison for five years. In 1927 he was released from prison and deported to Jamaica. Garvey continued his political activism and the work of U.N.I.A in Jamaica, and then moved to London in 1935. Due to the time he served in jail, he had lost some of his influence around the world. Garvey felt that he had failed black people around the world, hover he did not regret anything that he had done. He felt that even though he lost support, his teachings would remained in the hearts of many.
In 1940 Marcus Garvey died in London after having several strokes. Due to the travel restrictions during World War II, Garvey was buried in London. In 1964, his remains were exhumed and taken to Jamaica, where the government proclaimed him Jamaica’s first national hero and re-interred him at a shrine in the National Heroes Park. His memory and influence remained around the world, and his message of pride and dignity inspired many in the early days of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. In tribute to his many contributions, Garvey’s bust has been displayed in the Organization of American States’ Hall of Heroes in Washington, D.C.
Marcus Garvey was not the most likable individual to some of the American people white or black, however his influence cannot be denied. He simply cannot die. As long as there are injustices and inequalities, there will always be some of Marcus Garvey in the fight against it. His teachings inspired Malcolm, Martin and many other widely known Civil Rights Activist on if his most famous quotes was “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 the 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.”
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