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Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey



Marcus Garvey, born on August 17, 1887, in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, was a dynamic Black leader who spearheaded the earliest significant American Black nationalist movement, primarily centered in Harlem, New York City, from 1919 to 1926.

Despite limited formal education, Garvey attended school in Jamaica until the age of 14. After journeying through Central America and residing in London from 1912 to 1914, he returned to Jamaica. There, on August 1, 1914, Garvey and a circle of companions established the Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation Association and African Communities League, commonly known as the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). The UNIA aimed to cultivate a Black-governed nation in Africa.

Facing difficulty garnering support in Jamaica, Garvey ventured to the United States in 1916. He swiftly set up UNIA branches in Harlem and other major northern urban centers. By 1919, this emerging figure, dubbed the "Black Moses," purportedly commanded a following of approximately 2,000,000, although the exact membership figures remained ambiguous. At Harlem's Liberty Hall, the UNIA's platform, Garvey championed a vision of the "new Negro," exuding pride in Black identity. Through his publication, Negro World, he celebrated Black heroes and African cultural achievements. He advocated for Black economic empowerment, believing that respect would only follow economic strength. To this end, he founded the Negro Factories Corporation and the Black Star Line in 1919, alongside a network of businesses encompassing restaurants, grocery stores, laundries, a hotel, and a printing press.

Garvey reached the pinnacle of his influence in 1920, presiding over an international convention at Liberty Hall, attended by delegates from 25 nations. The event culminated in a spectacular parade of 50,000 individuals through Harlem's streets, with Garvey leading in flamboyant attire.

However, Garvey's lax business practices and his advocacy of racial purity and separatism, which included an unsettling approval of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan for its segregationist agenda, antagonized established Black leaders like A. Philip Randolph and W.E.B. Du Bois of the NAACP. Garvey's downfall accelerated with his indictment in 1922, alongside other UNIA members, for mail fraud related to stock sales for the Black Star Line. Serving two years of a five-year prison sentence, Garvey saw his influence wane. In 1927, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge commuted his sentence and deported him as an undesirable immigrant. Despite attempts to revive his movement abroad, Garvey died in relative obscurity.


Time of Birth:

Place of Birth: Saint Ann's Bay, Jamaica

Long: 77.1974° W

Lat: 18.4329° N

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Date of Birth: August 17, 1887

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