BY: LEON KWASI KUNTUO-ASARE
Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr., was born on August 17, 1887, in St.Ann’s Bay , Jamaica , to Sarah Jane Richards and Marcus Mosiah Garvey Sr., he was the youngest of eleven children, but only Marcus and his sister Indiana would survive to adulthood.
Garvey’s father owned a massive personal library, it was from this library where a young Garvey would first be educated. The young Garvey would continue his early education at some of St.Ann’s Bay elementary schools, it would be at those schools, Garvey would experience racism for the first time in his life.
In 1907, while working in the printing industry, Garvey would get his first taste of political activism, when he took part in a printer’s strike, the strike was not a success , but it sparked his interest in politics and activism.
In 1910, Garvey would leave Jamaica and travel throughout central America, first working as a timekeeper on a banana plantation in Costa Rica, Garvey would move on to work as an editor for a newspaper called La Nacionale and then later that year in 1911, Garvey would move to Panama, where he edited a biweekly Newspaper.
Garvey would return to Jamaica in 1912.
From 1912 to 1914, Garvey would live in London, England , where he would attend Birkbeck College and take classes philosophy and law classes. Garvey would also work for the African Times and Orient Review, published by Duse Mohamed Ali. Garvey would also be influenced by many civil rights activists of his time and was a huge admirer of Booker T. Washington.
When Garvey returned to Jamaica in 1914, he would form the United Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A), a Pan-Africanist organization.
On March 23,1916, Garvey would arrive in the United States, his goal was to raise money doing lectures to help build a school in Jamaica, modeled after Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. When Garvey first arrived in New York, he found a job as a printer. On May 9, 1916, Garvey would perform his first of many public lectures, eventually Garvey would go on a 38 state speaking tour.
In May 1917, Garvey and his 13 associates would form the United States’s branch of the U.N.I.A, and soon began to preach economic and social freedom for people of African descent, both living inside and outside of Africa.
In 1918 Garvey began to publish the Negro World Newspaper, the paper had a dual objective, to educate black people on News and events, in their community and and to help spread the message of the U.N.I.A and grow its membership.
By June 1919, the U.N.I.A’s membership had grown to a massive two million members. That same year the U.N.I.A’s incorporated the Black Star Line of Delaware and bought their first ship.
That same year, a assistant district attorney in New York, named Edwin P. Kilroe began investigating Garvey and the U.N.I.A, but no illegal acts could could be uncovered, so no charges were filed. But that would only be the beginning of a bitter relationship between Garvey and Kilroe. On October 14, 1919, a man named George Tyler, attempted to Assassinate Garvey, he shot at Garvey four times and wounded him in his right leg and the upper part of his head. George Tyler claimed A.D.A Edwin P. Kilroe sent him, but before his arraignment, George Tyler allegedly jumped from the third floor of a Harlem jail and committed suicide.
Later Garvey would create the Negro Factories Corporations, he developed the business with the intentions to manufacture everyday commodities, Garvey planned to have NFC branches in the United States, Central America, West Indies and Africa.
In 1919 J. Edgar Hoover, then a special Assistant to the Attorney General and the head of the General Investigative Division of the Bureau of Investigation, later to be renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), would open an investigation into the activities of Garvey and the U.N.I.A organization. The bureau hired its first five black agents to infiltrate Garvey’s movement. The aim was to find a reason to deport Garvey and to sabotage his U.N.I.A movement. Eventually they would charge Garvey on mail fraud in connections with stock of the Black Star Line, the accusations were that even though Garvey was in the process of buying the steamship on the BSL brochure, he did not own it at the time he placed it on the brochure, therefore it was in the court’s eyes it was fraud and he was convicted and sentenced to five years on June 23, 1923.
After prison, Garvey would continue his work for the black race, while based outside of the United States, in 1928 Garvey traveled to Geneva to present the “Petition of the Negro Race”, to the League of Nations (the precursor of the United Nations ), in that petition he outlined the abuse of people of African descent by western nations.
In September of 1929, Garvey would found Jamaica’s first modern political party, the People’s Political Party (PPP), its objective were to improve education, help end poverty and improve workers’ rights for black people living in Jamaica.
In 1935 Garvey left the Island of Jamaica for London, England, he would live there until his death on June 10, 1940, Garvey died at the age of 52, after suffering two strokes.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. would influence future civil rights leaders like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. , and the first President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah.
The Rastafari consider Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. to be a religious prophet.
The plaque outside of the home he died at.
Blue plaque, 53 Talgarth Road, London
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