Marcus Garvey

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Marcus Garvey
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr.
BirthplaceSt. Ann's Bay, Jamaica
Publisher, journalist
Known for Activism, Black nationalism, Pan-Africanism

Garvey, Marcus,

1887–1940, American proponent of black nationalism, b. Jamaica. At the age of 14, Garvey went to work as a printer's apprentice. After leading (1907) an unsuccessful printers' strike in Jamaica, he edited several newspapers in Costa Rica and Panama. During a period in London he took law classes and became interested in African history and black nationalism. His concern for the problems of blacks led him to found (1914) the Universal Negro Improvement Association and in 1916 he moved to New York City and opened a branch in Harlem. The UNIA was an organization designed "to promote the spirit of race pride." Broadly, its goals were to foster worldwide unity among all blacks and to establish the greatness of the African heritage. The organization quickly spread in black communities throughout the United States, the Caribbean, and Central America, and soon had thousands of members.

Garvey addressed himself to the lowest classes of blacks and rejected any notion of integration. Convinced that blacks could not secure their rights in countries where they were a minority race, he urged a "back to Africa" movement. In Africa, he said, an autonomous black state could be established, possessing its own culture and civilization, free from the domination of whites. Garvey was the most influential black leader of the early 1920s. His brilliant oratory and his newspaper, Negro World, brought him millions of followers. His importance declined, however, when his misuse of funds intended to establish a steamship company that would serve members of the African diaspora, the Black Star Line, resulted in a mail fraud conviction. He entered jail in 1925 and was deported to Jamaica two years later. From this time on his influence decreased, and he died in relative obscurity.


See Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, compiled by A. J. Garvey (2d ed. 1967, repr. 1986); biographies by E. D. Cronon (1955, repr. 1969) and C. Grant (2008); studies by A. J. Garvey (1963), T. Vincent (1971), E. C. Fax (1972), E. D. Cronon, ed. (1973), J. H. Clarke, ed. (1974), and J. Stein (1985).

Garvey, Marcus (Moziah)

(1887–1940) social activist; born in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica. Largely self-educated, he worked as a printer in Jamaica, edited several short-lived papers in Costa Rica and Panama, then founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Jamaica (1914). In 1916 he moved to New York City, where he established UNIA headquarters and started up the Negro World, a popular weekly newspaper that con- veyed his message of black pride. Launching several other African-American capitalist ventures, he presided over an international convention of black people in New York (1920), where he called for freedom from white domination in Africa. His later life, however, was anticlimatic. In 1923 he was convicted of mail fraud when selling stock in his failed Black Star steamship line, which was launched for maritime trade between black nations; he was sentenced (1923) to a five-year prison term. Other ventures also failed, including an attempt to foster black colonization to Liberia. After his release from prison (1927) he was deported to Jamaica; he moved to London in 1934 and never regained prominence. However, in stirring African-Americans with his message of pride in ancestry and prospects of self-sufficiency, he prefigured a later generation of African-American leaders such as Malcolm X.
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