Marcus Garvey Essay Research Paper The Impact

Marcus Garvey Essay, Research Paper

The Impact of Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey, born in St. Ann, Jamaica in 1887, seemed to have been racially proud since birth. A descendant of the fiercely proud Maroons, Garvey displayed his pride and aided others in developing the same pride in fellow Africans, and also helping to awake Negros. His movements spread throughout the Caribbean and the United States, awakening many Africans to from the boundaries that had kept them under oppression for so long.

While Garvey’s name has now achieved legendary proportions, and his movement has had an ongoing international impact, Garvey was just another man who embodied the contradictions of his generation. He was seen by his colleagues in a variety of ways, both positive and negative. Despite any controversy, he has come to define both a social phenomenon, organized under the banner of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and African Communities League (ACL), and an era of black renaissance, in which Garveyism and the concept of black racial pride became synonymous, (Holly, 132). Garveyism as an ideological movement began in black Harlem in the spring of 1918, and then flourished throughout the black world. Nearly a thousand UNIA divisions were formed, and tens of thousands of members enrolled within the brief period of seven years. The reign of the Garvey movement, as Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., wrote, “awakened a race consciousness that made Harlem felt around the world,” (Holly, 174). Of course, Garveyism is not the only reason that Marcus Garvey is so widely known today. Garvey s prized work begins with founding a newspaper in Jamaica entitled The Negro World, following the slogan One God, One Aim, One Destiny. Around 1916, Garvey left his home of Jamaica to spread his ideas to the African Americans. Garvey’s farewell address to Jamaicans included the words Look to Africa for the crowning of a Black king; he shall be the Redeemer, (Vialli, 2). Within his first year in America, Garvey founded the UNIA, which developed into a national organization following the era of Garveyism. Encouraged by Booker T. Washington, another famous African leader, Garvey had come to America hoping to gather support for a proposed school to be built in Jamaica, patterned on the model of the famed Tuskegee Institute. Garvey started out fairly unknown, yet within a few short years, he had risen to the front rank of black leadership, at the head of a social movement that was unique in black history for its size and extent. Soon, blacks were not the only people following the ideas of Garvey, but immigrants were as well.

However, not everyone viewed Marcus Garvey s work as inspirational. “We may seriously ask, is not Marcus Garvey a paranoiac?” asked the NAACP’s Robert Bagnall in his 1923 article “The Madness of Marcus Garvey.” An earlier psychological assessment by W. E. B. Du Bois diagnosed Garvey as suffering from “very serious defects of temperament and training,” and described him as “dictatorial, domineering, inordinately vain and very suspicious.” (Vialli, 8). Why would such negative things be expressed about such a strong, well-known leader? Perhaps they were beginning to question Garvey s goals, and started to think that personal glory was all that he was after. Due to many people sharing these thought, Garvey was dismissed from his role in this movement. These views were held by some of the key African leaders, but this is not to say that Garvey did not have a positive effect on other people. From Garvey’s perspective, success of the individual should serve the ends of the race, and vice versa. “There are people who would not think of their success,” Garvey said, “but for the inspiration they receive from the UNIA, (Holly, 145). Garvey used poetry to try to reflect some of these ideas to the less educated Africans. These poems are compared much with those of W.E.B. du Bois, and both share the same influential tone. Both are liberating and strongly worded, but also simple enough to be followed by almost anyone. This showed the way that Garvey cared for his audience, not just about himself as others thought. Garvey’s interest in founding educational facilities was also a lifelong goal. He attended courses at Birkbeck College in England in 1914 before he founded the UNIA, and one of the new organization’s earliest goals was the creation of an industrial training institute for black people in Jamaica. Before the turn of the century, the practical education in skilled crafts that industrial training offered had become one of the popular paths for artisans in their search for self-culture.

After Garvey s death in 1940, his prophesy of the European countries to scramble to obtain power over the entire world became a reality. Africans began to fear the loss of freedom of their country, and began to rethink the ideas of Garvey. The teachings of Marcus Garvey were rediscovered and reconsidered by a large number of African people as the global conflicts increased. In the United States, African-Americans greeted the Supreme Court s decision of 1954, outlawing segregation in school systems, with mixed feelings of hope and skepticism. A year after this decision, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Freedom Rides, and the demand for equal pay for Black teachers (that later became a demand for equal education for all) would become part of the main force that would set the fight for liberation, and Garvey’s dreams, in motion.


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