Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey was an important force in the American Black Nationalist Movement that was active from 1919-1926. Mostly self-taught, but highly charismatic, he attempted to found the movement in Jamaica, but found little support.
Garvey was born August 17th, 1887 in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica and attended school until he was 14. His wandering feet took him to Central America and London before returning to Jamaica where he founded the Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation Association (UNIA) that had three primary goals: racial pride, economic self-sufficiency, and forming an independent black nation in Africa.
Often called the “Black Moses” of his time, Garvey came to the U.S. in 1916 where he established a UNIA branch and his “Negro World” newspaper. He was the founder of the Negro Factories Corporation, the Black Star Line of steamships, a printing press, a hotel, laundries, and a chain of grocery stores and restaurants.
Garvey’s canon was one of separatism and racial purity that earned him enemies among influential black leaders of the day. He was indicted in 1922 for mail fraud in connection with the Black Star Line. He served two years in prison if a five-year sentence, President Calvin Coolidge commuted the last three years, and he was deported as an undesirable alien.
He died in London on June 10, 1940 and in 1964, his remains were returned to Jamaica and he was named the nation’s first national hero. His movement never regained the momentum it had achieved in the U.S. A political activist, journalist, publisher, orator and entrepreneur, Garvey had an impact on the Rastafari, Black Power and Nation of Islam movements and his words still hold power today.
- “The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.”
- “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.”
- “The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind.”
- “The pen is mightier than the sword, but the tongue is mightier than them both put together.”
- Take the kinks out of your mind, not your hair.”
- “Men who are in earnest are not afraid of consequences.”
- “You must not mistake lip-service and noise for bravery and service.”
- “The protection against injustice in man is power – physical, financial and scientific.”
- “Take advantage of every opportunity; where there is none, make it for yourself.”
- “Never forget that intelligence rules the world and ignorance carries the burden.”
- “Therefore, remove yourself as far as possible from ignorance and seek as far as possible to be intelligent.”
- “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
- “What you do today that is worthwhile, inspires others to act at some future time.”
- “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.”
- “There shall be no solution to this race problem until you, yourselves, strike the blow for liberty.”
- “I know no national boundary where the Negro is concerned. The whole world is my province until Africa is free.”
- “The whole world is run on bluff.”
- “Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm.”
- “Be as proud of your race today as our fathers were in the days of yore. We have beautiful history, and we shall create another in the future that will astonish the world.”
- “If the Negro is not careful he will drink in all the poison of modern civilization and die from the effects of it.”
- “When all else fails to organize the people, conditions will.”
- “Lose not courage, lose not faith, go forward.” (BONUS)