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The Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey:  Afrika for the Afrikans… at home and abroad!

“Liberate a minds of men and ultimately you will liberate the bodies of men!”  Garvey advocated.

This month  marks the 124th Physical Day anniversary of the iconic Pan-Afrikan warrior born in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica on August 17th 1887.  Marcus Mosiah Garvey is considered by many factologists [historians] to be one of the greatest freedom fighters ever, as he amassed a legion of loyal followers world-wide with just a newspaper.

In acknowledgment, the annual ‘Black Power March’ was conducted in Harlem by a contingent of a couple hundred modern-day Garveyites.  Black Nationalist pioneer and Marcus’ ideological son, Carlos Cooks, initiated the yearly occasion 71 years ago.

Beginning from the very park which is named after him, at corner of 124th St. & 5th Ave., they visited a few local locations where the Pan-Afrikan advocate frequented.  Hip-Hop Wired shines light on the visionary’s great legacy this month.

Marcus Garvey’s success in liberating millions psychologically enslaved Afrikans throughout the Diaspora from a mentally-death, as well as from the oppressive system of capitalism, can never be denied.  His accomplishments certify his legacy as one of the most influential individuals of the 20th century.

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots!” Garvey once warned.

Young Marcus acquired his insatiable thirst for knowledge regarding his Afrikan heritage through reading many books contained in his father’s [Marcus Sr.] and uncle’s [Alfred] elaborate truth-buries [libraries].  As a teenager, he migrated to Kingston, learning the publishing process as an apprentice in a print shop, eventually being elected Vice-President of the Kingston Union.

Marcus Garvey Speech

By 1910 he was traveling throughout Central America extensively, realizing the power of the printed word while employed as an editor for newspapers in Costa Rica and Panama.  He’d also fine-tune his trade while in Europe, working with publications there as well.

While still in London [1912-14] Garvey read, and was immensely inspired by, Booker T. Washington’s autobiography, “Up From Slavery”, and sought him out, but when Garvey arrived to the U.S. in 1916, Washington had already made his transition to becoming an ancestor.

“We must inspire a literature and form together a doctrine of our own without any apologies to the powers-that-be!” asserted Garvey.

Upon his return to Jamaica from Europe, Garvey established the Universal Negro Improvement Association [U.N.I.A.] in August of 1914, eventually marrying Amy Ashwood, one of its co-founders.

The organization’s motivational motto: “One God!  One Aim!  One Destiny!” was a unifying force, as they advocated a ‘do-for-self’ entrepreneurial ethic while at the same time striving for the redemption of the Afrikan mind.

Garvey’s stated goal was to… “unite all people of Afrikan ancestry of the world to one great body to establish a country and absolute government of their own.”

Throughout his travels, he accumulated first-hand knowledge about the plight of Afrikans on other parts of the planet.  Those prior experiences led him to understand the commonality amongst Afrikans throughout the Diaspora, as he later attempted to re-establish a free and globally united Black Afrika/Alkebulan.

“I know no national boundary where [Blacks are] concerned… the whole world is my province until Afrika is free!” Garvey proclaimed.

Being well traveled, as well as read, the astute student credits Edward Wilmot Blyden as being the forefather of the Pan-Afrikan paradigm.  Additionally, he also acknowledges the efforts of Hubert Harrison as another inspirational source as well.

“A reading man and woman is a ready man and woman, but a writing man and woman is exact,” determined the Black Nationalist.

Marcus arrived in N.Y.C. in March of 1916, earning a living as a printer, and developing his great oratory skills on the streets of Harlem.

Having already gained much valuable expertise with print journalism, he put that prior know-how to good use as he suggested the importance of utilizing a Pan-Afrikan platform and other self-determining messages, via his own publication, “The Negro World”, launched in August 1918.  The progressive paper was printed in various languages, including English, French & Spanish, therefore reaching the 4 corners of the planet.

By this time the U.N.I.A. claimed a following of over 1 million loyal Garveyites, as the members are called.  By 1919 the membership had doubled to 2 million, eventually growing to over 4 million the following year, and continued amassing millions more thereafter.

“Garvey’s U.N.I.A. had a world-wide membership of 12 million.  Mr. Garvey came on the Afrikan stage at a critical period in our history,” determined Brother Tarik Haskins, long-time Garvey admirer and Original Black Panther.

Also in 1919, Garvey purchased a building at 120 W138th St., naming it ‘Liberty Hall’, where he began conducting regular meetings.  By June that year, his ‘Back-To-Afrika’ plan of conducting international trade amongst Afrikans was coming to fruition and the ‘Black Star Line’ was established – a fleet of ships meant for commerce and travel.

The U.N.I.A. acquired its first ship, naming it the ‘S.S. Fredrick Douglas’, set to make its initial voyage on September 14th 1919, but non-functioning engines prevented the launching.  They eventually purchased more ships that were also found to be defective as well.  What was later revealed was that the ship’s engines had been sabotaged by the United Snakes government.

“It’s especially important today that Black people unify and hook up themselves a U.N.I.A., or something equivalent, today that will address our own economic concerns.  The situation in Amerikkka is getting increasingly worse and it’s going to necessitate that we do-for-self and buy Black to keep the resources within our communities,”  suggested Tarik.

The economic self-sufficiency that the U.N.I.A. helped millions of people to achieve attracted the attention of federal investigators.  What eventually became known as the ‘counter intelligence program’ or ‘COINTELPRO’ was begun with J. Edgar Hoover’s efforts to derail Garvey’s movement.

He was eventually framed for federal mail fraud, convicted, incarcerated, then deported in 1927.  While back in Jamaica, and later in England, Garvey continued his fight for the restoration of Afrika to its rightful throne, until he made his transition on June 10th 1940.

 “A people without a vision will perish!” – Garvey once forewarned.

Although it has been 71 years since Garvey became an ancestor, his accomplishments continue impacting lives today, as a few other organizations have been heavily influenced by his legacy; including the Rastafarians, the Nation Of Islam, the Black Nationalist, just to name a few.

Historians often credit Garvey for inspiring many others which also fought for Afrikans to be liberated from colonization.  There hasn’t been an Afrikan-liberating movement in North America within the past 100 years which wasn’t directly influenced by Garvey and his teachings of race-pride and do-for-self prescription.

Many prominent educators and freedom-fighters, such as El Hajj Malik El Shabazz/Malcolm X, Abubadika Sonny Carson and Dr. Leonard Jeffries, grew up as Garveyites.

Malcolm X Speaks On Marcus Garvet’s Influences

His “Back To Afrika” movement helped to restore the high levels of self-esteem which had been stripped away from Original people during the enslavement process.

“In light of racist crackers having trained us to believe ourselves to be dogs and other animals, we Afrikans were in desperate need of a positive paradigm.  Garvey provided us with ample examples of real positive, beautiful Afrikans.  Mr. Garvey we love you!” proclaimed Brother Tarik.

 “Any leadership that teaches you to depend on another race is a leadership that will enslave you!  They gave leadership to our fore parents and that leadership made them slaves!  We have decided on a leadership of our own to make ourselves free men.  If you are not prepared to do it [fight for your freedom] then you will die!” established Garvey.

In the immortal words of Garvey himself – “Up you mighty race!  You can accomplish what you will!”

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