Marcus Garvey, United Negro Improvement Association #blackhistorymonth

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Mini Biography of Marcus Garvey, Founder, United Negro Improvement Association #blackhistorymonth

Name: Marcus Garvey
Birth Date: August 17, 1887–June 10, 1940
Job Functions: Human Rights Activist
Fields: Social Activism
Known For: Inspiring Racial Pride

Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey 1924 via Wikipedia

Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica in 1887 when it was still under colonial rule. His distaste for racial inequities, which he observed in Jamaica, inspired him to take action by way of political activism. At the beginning of World War I, Garvey founded Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1914 to challenge the belief that whites were superior. J. Edgar Hoover viewed Marcus Garvey as an agitator and a subversive because he was “agitating the negro movement.” Finally in 1923, based on what was viewed as questionable evidence, Hoover arrested Garvey, and after serving part of his sentence, President Calvin Coolidge pardoned him, but he was still deported because he was an undocumented worker.

In this mini biography of Marcus Garvey, we will learn more about his life. Although I am celebrating Black History month on The Invisible Mentor blog, I am lifting up all injustices. These mini biographies are created so that we can learn from the lives of others. We will not agree with everything that the people profiled have done, but we can learn at least one thing from each of them.

Marcus Garvey’s Philosophy and Steps to Success

  • As a young man, Garvey moved to Kingston, where he worked as a printer and editor.
  • Traveled extensively in the West Indies and Central America and lived briefly in England. Became convinced that Black people suffered cultural and economic exploitation when they lived outside of Africa.
  • While in London, UK, Booker T. Washington’s book, Up from Slavery, inspired Garvey.
  • In 1914, he left London and returned to Jamaica, and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) to unite Africans worldwide. 

Read Booker T Washington, Principal, Tuskegee Institute And Author of Up from Slavery

  • Followed the Tuskegee Institute’s model to set up a trade school. The initiative failed because of lack of financial resources.
  • Arrived in New York in March 1916, during World War I. Garvey visited different churches to share his vision. Traveled extensively, lecturing, which gave him a firsthand sense of conditions in African-American communities in the US.
  • By 1918, started a weekly, the Negro World that grew in circulation to fifty thousand.
  • By 1919, Garvey purchased Liberty Hall, an auditorium on West 138th Street in Harlem. His charisma and oratory skills, won him many followers.
  • Launched his project to buy ocean steamers to trade with Africa and take black people back to Africa.
  • At five dollars per share, Blacks purchased stocks in Garvey’s company, the Black Star Line, and he was able to buy his first ship after raising over half a million dollars.
  • UNIA held its first international convention in August 1920 at Liberty Hall and Madison Square Garden, and thousands from across the globe attended.
  • Black Star Line venture was not a success and Marcus Garvey’s movement declined.
  • Notable African Americans such as WEB Du Bois, the founder of the NAACP, criticized Marcus Garvey.
  • To neutralize white opposition, met secretly with Edward Young Clarke, one of the leaders of the Ku Klux Klan in Atlanta. What was he thinking? That caused a split in UNIA.
  • Although he was an undocumented worker, he spoke out against racial inequities and inspired many to embrace Black Pride.
  • His activism came with a price and landed him in jail. The evidence against him for mail fraud was viewed as questionable, and many believe that the crimes were committed without his knowledge. Garvey also made the mistake of defending himself instead of hiring a lawyer. As a leader, it is your responsibility to know what is occurring within your organization.
  • Although President Calvin Coolidge pardoned him, he was still deported to Jamaica in 1927 and was never allowed to return to the US.
  • UNIA quickly disintegrated after their charismatic leader was deported.
  • Marcus Garvey was unable to rebuild his movement. Defeated in his 1930 bid to win a seat on the colonial legislative council, he had to stay contented with a seat on the municipal council of Kingston.
  • Now bankrupt and disheartened, he moved to London, UK in 1935 and published a periodical, the Black Man.
  • Garvey achieved few of his goals in life, but he made a mark, and died trying. On the other hand, he inspired blacks to seek economic independence. Additionally, “his teachings and ideas became a lasting legacy. His emphasis on racial pride, understanding the African heritage, and Black unity shaped the thinking of Malcolm X, whose father was a Garveyite, and the program of the Black Muslims in the 1930s.” St James Encyclopedia of Popular culture
  • In 1964, declared Jamaica’s first national hero. 

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Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.

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Sources Cited/Referenced

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History
Encyclopedia of Religion
International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences
J. Edgar Hoover Monitors Marcus Garvey
New Encyclopedia of Africa
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture