Marcus Garvey

Who Was Marcus Garvey?

Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) was a political figurehead, publisher, journalist, and orator from Jamaica who made a substantial contribution to the Pan-African movement as well as the advancement of black empowerment and nationalism. He is the founder of the African Communities League and the Universal Negro Improvement Association, serving as their first President-General.

Marcus Garvey
Photo: worldatlas/celeblifegraphy

Early Life And Education

On August 17, 1887, Marcus Garvey was born in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. His mother, Sarah Richards, was a domestic worker and the daughter of peasant farmers; his father, Malchus Garvey, was a stonemason. Although he completed his elementary schooling in Jamaica, he dropped out of school at a young age to work as an apprentice printer.

From an early age, Marcus Garvey was passionate about political engagement. At the age of 14, he moved to Kingston, Jamaica, and started participating in union activities. Later, he worked as a newspaper editor and toured around Central America, writing on the mistreatment of migrant laborers. He worked as an advocate for Pan-African nationalism for the African Times and Orient Review while attending Birkbeck College, University of London, in London.

United Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.)

With the intention of bringing the African diaspora together and creating a distinct Black nation, he went to Jamaica in 1912 and established the UNIA. In 1916, he left for America to gather money for a similar project in Jamaica. He arrived in New York City and started a UNIA chapter in Harlem. To spread his message, Garvey released the widely read publication Negro World.

Black Star Line

With the goal of fostering trade and commerce between Africans in America, the Caribbean, South and Central America, Canada, and Africa, Garvey founded the Black Star Line in 1919. In addition, he founded the Negros Factories Association, whose mission was to produce marketable goods in major industrial hubs throughout Africa and the Western Hemisphere.

Under Surveillance By J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI opposed Garvey and monitored him. Hoover called him a “notorious negro agitator” and went about gathering evidence against him. Marcus Garvey and three other executives of the UNIA were accused of mail fraud with the Black Star Line in 1922. After being found guilty and given a prison term, he was transferred to Jamaica in 1927.

Later Years

Garvey persisted in his political activism and the UNIA’s work in Jamaica in spite of these obstacles, and in 1935 he relocated to London. As his power declined in his latter years, he worked with Mississippi senator Theodore Bilbo, a segregationist, on the Greater Liberia Act of 1939, a failed reparations plan.

Honors And Recognition

He received the Jamaican National Hero award in 1964, and movements promoting equality and social justice are still motivated by his beliefs.

Death And Accomplishments

Marcus Garvey died in London on June 10, 1940, after several strokes. Later, his body was transported to Jamaica, where it was buried at the National Heroes Park. Many were inspired by Garvey’s message of pride and dignity in the early days of the civil rights movement. He is recognized as a key player in the struggle for racial equality and self-determination today.

Quotes Written By Marcus Garvey

  • There are two classes of men in the world, those who succeed and those who do not succeed.
  • If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.
  • With confidence, you have won before you have started.
  • A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
  • The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.

Interesting Facts

  • Article Title: Marcus Garvey Biography
  • Full Name: Marcus Garvey
  • Birth Date: August 17, 1887
  • Birth Place: St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica
  • Children: Marcus Mosiah Garvey, III, Julius Winston
  • Spouse: Amy Jacques Garvey (m. 1922–1940), Amy Ashwood Garvey (m. 1919–1922)
  • Parents: Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Sr., Sarah Jane Richards
  • Death Date: June 10, 1940
  • Death Year: 1940
  • Author: Editors