Marcus Garvey, was born in Jamaica in 1887 and is considered to be the father of the Black Nationalism Movement. During the early 1900s, after reading Booker T.
Washingtons Up From Slavery, Garvey pledged to organize Blacks throughout the world with an agenda of Black unity and pride. Moreover, Garvey achieved his greatest influence in the Untied States where there was a growing ambition among Blacks for justice, wealth, and a sense of community. From the time of World War I, up until the mid-1920s, Graveys Universal Negro Improvement Association(UNIA) was the largest Black organization in African-American history. An estimated million men and women from the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa belonged to it.When Garvey arrived in the United States in March 1916, the Black populace was about to suffer a severe blow that would make them ideal candidates for Graveys movement.
During the Reconstruction period that followed the American Civil War, many African-Americans lost faith in the American political process. They were promised many reforms and reparations that were never realized. However, World War 1 bought a new sense of prosperity to blacks because they felt they had a second chance to prove themselves as well as attain their piece of the proverbial American pie.
Implementing Algers philosophy which states …heroes prove themselves through inspired acts of heroism and devotion, many blacks believed if they fought in World War I, it would deliver them their second emancipation1 .
Nonetheless, after entering the war, African-Americans were subjected to segregation, indignities in training camps, and assigned to labor battalions far out of proportion to their skills and intelligence2 . In addition, black soldiers were told that when they return home they should not expect the same privileges they enjoyed aboard.When the war ended in 1919, the African-American community was outraged. Their soldiers were not shown any type of gratitude. Instead, they were the victims of violence. For example, of the seventy-five Blacks lynched in 1919, ten were World War I veterans. The disappointment that World War I left on the Black community served as fuel for the fire Garveys radical movement.
Soon after World War I, Garvey concluded that the anger that engulfed many Black communities after the war could be used as a catalyst to end both imperialism in Africa and discrimination in the United States. He combined the economic nationalist ideas of Booker T. Washington with various Pan-Africanist idealists of the time. Garveys goals were modern and urban.
He wanted to end imperialist rule and create modern societies in Africa. He formed black communities on three continents with his newspaper the Negro World , and in 1919 he established the Black Star Line, an international shipping company to provided transportation and encourage trade among the Blacks in Africa and Blacks in the United States. In the same year he founded the Negro Factories Corporation to establish such businesses. In 1920 Garvey, presided over the first of several international conventions of the UNIA. He sought to direct the new black militancy into the UNIA, for he thought this was a good way for the group to overcome class and national divisions.
Although local UNIA chapters provided many social and economic benefits for their members, Garveys primary efforts failed: the Black Star Line went of business in 1922 and his other enterprises eventually suffered the same fate. Furthermore, his success earned him many enemies, and his stay in America was relatively short. Many Black leaders were suspicious about his rhetoric and his motives. In addition, his plan for reparations of Blacks to Liberia failed when the country withdrew its support, fearing a Garvey takeover. Garveys verbal talents attracted thousands but his faltering projects only generated ideological and personality conflicts. In the end, he could neither unite Blacks nor accumulate enough power to significantly change the societies in which the UNIA functioned in. Graveys criticism of the federal and New York State governments led to charges of mail fraud in 1923.
Convicted in 1925, he was sentenced to the federal penitentiary in Atlanta but was released two years later and was deported back to Jamaica. Unable to resurrect the UNIA, Garvey moved to London, where he died in 1940.Garveys movement was the first attempt by a person of African descent to conjoin economic empowerment with mass organization.
Although most leaders that came after Garvey did not try to create Black economic institutions as he had, Garvey had demonstrated to them that the urban masses were a potentially powerful force in the struggle for Black freedom.Bibliography: