Marcus Garvey & The Vision of Africa

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History is written with prejudices, likes and dislikes, there has never been a white historian who ever wrote with any true love or feeling for the Negro~Marcus Garvey

On this day August 17, 1887 Marcus  Mosiah Garvey was born in the island of Jamaica, British West Indies. He is a  descendant of the Maroons. The African slaves who defied the English Administration and soldiers. The enduring legacy  of slavery and colonialism had a lasting impact on Garvey. In the era in which he was born, colonialism had already been planted in the soil of Africa.  The Berlin conference in 1884 and 1885 was formed to strategize how to split up the continent amongst European states to establish empire and commerce in Africa.  In the United States betrayal of the reconstruction had the black race grappling with the struggle.  Many are called, few are chosen. The difference between the called and  the chosen, is that the chosen  to answer the call. Marcus Garvey chose to be that race men for his people. A race men is one who works to advance their people and their interest at the forefront of their own lives. His mission was for the African people to liberated across the world. His plan was total African redemption.

In his plan to liberate African people, Marcus Garvey learned the black freedom struggle was  not created  equal. While we all face the plight of racism, injustice, and oppression. There are levels to the struggle. The system of slavery varied globally in Cuba and Haiti. Africans had some mobility. In South America and West Indies, the slave masters did not outlaw the African drum, ornamentation, or African religion. Families were kept together. If a slave on an island was sold to a plantation owner, they could still walk to see the relatives. Cultural continuity was established among the slaves. This type of slavery system did not exist in America. The scope of the problem has to defined differently. The solution to the problem has to be implemented differently.

The Black Nationalist would witness firsthand the black struggle as he began to travel the world. In 1909 Garvey made his first trip outside of Jamaica to Costa Rica, where he observed the condition of black workers and began an effort to improve their lot. His journey also took him to Panama, Educador, Honduras, Colombia, and Venezuela.


In 1912, Garvey went to London. During his time he was working, learning, and growing. He saw new dimensions of the black man struggle. He set out to acquaint himself with realities of dealing with massive power. London was the epicenter for information about the colonial world.


Literacy played a huge role in expanding Garveys intellect for ideas to grow.  Marcus Garvey obtained a copy of Up from Slavery written by Booker T Washington. Garvey learned the concept of leadership and its responsibility. Up from Slavery helped to form what we now know as Graveyism.



On June 17 Garvey boarded a ship at Southampton. It was during the passage from Southampton to Jamaica that the idea of the Universal Negro Improvement Association(UNIA) was transmitted to him. It was during a conversation with a West Indian negro that Marcus Garvey further learned of the horrors in Africa. This troubled the Marcus Garvey as his spirit wrestled with such horrible tales. As he pondered over the conversation, the vision began to manifest itself.


On August 1, 1914 the Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation Association and African Communities League was founded.  The motto of the UNIA is One God! One Aim! One Destiny!


UNIA Universal Objectives

  1. To establish a Universal Confraternity among the race
  2. To promote the spirit of race pride and love
  3. To reclaim the fallen of the race
  4. To administer to and assist the needy
  5. To assist in civilizing the backward tribes of Africa
  6. To strengthen the Imperialism of Independent African States
  7. To establish commissionaires or Agencies in the principal countries of the world for the protection of all negroes
  8. To promote conscientious Christian worship among the native tribes of Africa
  9. To establish Universities, College and Secondary Schools for further education and culture of the boys and girls of the race
  10. To conduct a worldwide commercial and industrial intercourse


Many of these same objects Garvey intended to do locally in Jamaica. As we all know like any great endeavor comes great resistance. Marcus Garvey struggle in the early years to unify the people. For  his life’s work and legacy lives on forever.


My question for those of you reading today was do you take away from Marcus Garvey legacy. What does he teach us as we are still fighting for black liberation?


While I am still studying and researching Garveys work, these key points came to mind


  1. Your purpose can be birthed from enduring pain.
  2. Often times we implement the solution before we have defined the problem. Understand the dynamics of the problem you are trying to solve. You may have to step outside your comfort zone to do it.
  3. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Many of our ancestors have given us the blueprint. It is on us to study, analyze, and figure out how the blueprint fits into the context of the situation today.

Look back to Marcus Garvey ten objectives established by the UNIA. Which one objective would you take and solution would you propose  to build off Garveys principles.


Liberation can mean many things to certain people. Things I want to be liberated from may not be the same for you. We must  works towards liberation. Even if it’s liberating yourself.


May we continue to celebrate the life and legacy of Marcus Garvey.

Save Us World Spirit, from our lesser selves

Grant us that war and hatred cease

Reveal our souls in every race and hue

Help us O Human God is thy truce

To make humanity divine.

~Marcus Garvey


Listen to the audio version of this post on The Coin: Black History on The Other Side podcast


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