Marcus Garvey, mainstay of the "Back to Africa" movement
*This date marks the birth of Marcus Garvey in 1887. He was an African American Black Nationalist leader, who was a proponent of the "Back to Africa" movement in the United States.
Garvey was the youngest of 11 children from Saint Ann's Bay, Jamaica. He left school at the age of 14 to serve as a printer's apprentice. A few years later, he took a job at a printing company in Kingston, where in 1907 he led a printers' strike for higher wages. Garvey then traveled to South America and Central America. In 1912, he went to England, where he became interested in African history and culture. He returned to Jamaica in 1914 and shortly thereafter founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the African Communities League. In 1916 he moved to the United States and settled in New York City. There he incorporated the UNIA and started a weekly newspaper, the Negro World.
A persuasive orator and author, Garvey urged American Blacks to be proud of their race and preached their return to their ancestral homeland, Africa. To this end, he founded the Black Star Line in 1919 to provide steamship transportation, and the Negro Factories Corporation to encourage black economic independence. Marcus Garvey attracted thousands of supporters and claimed two million members for the UNIA. He suffered a series of economic disasters, however, and in 1922 he was arrested for mail fraud. Garvey served as his own defense attorney at his trial, was convicted, and went to prison in 1925.
His sentence was commuted two years later, but he was immediately deported to Jamaica. Unable to resurrect the UNIA or regain his influence, Marcus Garvey moved to London, where he died in relative obscurity in 1940.
The African American Atlas
Black History & Culture an Illustrated Reference
by Molefi K. Asanta and Mark T. Mattson
Macmillam USA, Simon & Schuster, New York
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