Have you ever heard the name Marcus Garvey? Prior to delving deeper into black history I had heard the name obliquely but had no true knowledge about who the man was or what he stood for. He is not one of the generic Black History month crew trotted out by the establishment as a good example to follow. This is one of the reasons I think it is so important for us to control our own history because if we allow someone else to teach us what they want us to know about our history they will not teach us for our benefit they will teach us for theirs. Marcus Garvey was a proponent of several philosophies that the system we live in does not want to catch on. And this is the precise reason we need to be thoroughly educated about this man and the ideologies he advocated.
Marcus Garvey wore many hats in his efforts to better the lives of black people, he was a political leader, an entrepreneur, an orator, a publisher and a journalist. Garvey was an advocate of Pan-Africanism a movement encouraging the unity of Black people all over the globe to achieve economic, political and social progress.
It’s amazing to look at the present state of black people all over the globe today and realize how common our struggles are and have been. As we look throughout history and see that as Blacks in America were fighting against discrimination, oppression and state sponsored terrorism to achieve civil rights, Blacks in Africa were fighting to regain control of their countries from imperialistic regimes trying to exploit and oppress them. How much more powerful these movements would be if we were united across countries and continents?
Garvey was the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association an organization devoted to securing social, political and economic freedom for Black People. Through the organization he founded Black Star Line and by 1920 the organization had four million members. Garvey intended to invest heavily in Liberia but abandoned the plan after meeting heavy resistance from European nations who had their own designs on Liberia.
Garvey focused heavily on education and independence for black people and also had interesting ideas regarding politics. He specifically rejected communism as policy that would be harmful to blacks. He said “It is a dangerous theory of economic and political reformation because it seeks to put government in the hands of an ignorant white mass who have not been able to destroy their natural prejudices towards Negroes and other non-white people. While it may be a good thing for them, it will be a bad thing for the Negroes who will fall under the government of the most ignorant, prejudiced class of the white race”.
Garvey was so influential that many later leaders were inspired in some way by him. The red black and green flag of the UNIA has now represents black liberation. The flag of Ghana was inspired by Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah placed the black star in the middle of Ghana’s flag in honor of Garvey’s Black Star Line.
At a time when major Hollywood figures Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee are calling for black people to unite our resources for our benefit, where visionary actor Nate Parker takes a voluntary break from until the movie he wrote about Nat Turner can be made and he receives funding from some of the greatest athletes in the NBA the resources are there for a major awakening to occur. The time is right when we are seeing that despite all of the “progress” that has been made the state can murder black people with impunity and that white supremacy still exists and exerts an abundance of influence in all areas of our lives. There exists no better time than now for Black people to unite to improve our conditions as a group not just as individuals to raise each other up and eliminate our dependence upon systems run by people that do not acknowledge our humanity and there is great news, we don’t have to start from scratch we have a blueprint for uniting thanks to Marcus Garvey