I believe one of the most influential African Americans of all time is Marcus Garvey. Marcus Garvey achieved accomplishments in not just one, but many areas. His accomplishments ranged from a worldwide Black political organization, The Untied Negro Improvement Association, to the first, and to this day the largest Black-owned multinational businesses, the Black Star Lines. Marcus was criticized by many of his fellow African American leaders because many of his projects failed. In despite of that, Marcus Garvey talent to attract followers towards his beliefs is inspiring.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born into a poor family on August 17, 1887 at St. Annas Bay, Jamaica. Marcus was born the youngest of 11 children. His father was a stonemason who supposedly descended from the maroons. Maroons are African American slaves who defended their freedom from British and Spanish invaders. Garvey had to itemize his pride in the unmixed African heritage of his parents. Marcus grew up and received little education in Jamaica, so he was largely self-taught. At age 14 Marcus had to find work in a print shop to help out his family. Marcus began to doubt the value of trade union after he was involved the first printers strike of 1907. Marcus Garvey began to complain about the mistreatment of African workers to British authorities and was appalled by the little response and that left him very skeptical about any hope for justice from the white people (Rogoff 72). In 1912 Marcus Garvey studies abroad in London. He began writing African publications and became an avid supporter of African independence. I believe the turning point in Marcus Garveyas fight for African freedom and equality came after he read Booker T. Washingtonas book, Up From Slavery. Garvey aresponded warmly to itas thesis of black self helpa (Kranz, Koslow 86). With that notion in mind Marcus Garvey returned to Jamaica in 1914 ready to make a difference.
Marcus was not noticed for just one accomplishment is his lifetime, but many on them. When Marcus returned to Jamaica he got re-acquainted with a group of friends and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which sought, among other things, to work on black emigration to Africa. It also promoted racial pride, education, and black business activity. In Jamaica Garvey didnat attract the kind of following that he hope for so he moved his tactics to the United States in 1916. By 1919 the UNIA reached its peek with about 2,000,000 members and hundreds of branches worldwide. Marcus also founded the Negro Factories Corporation (NFC) which its purpose was to promote black economic independence by providing money and labor to black business owners. It also helped to build factories in the United States, Africa, Central America, and the West Indies. He also founded the first and, to this day, the largest black-owned multinational businesses, the Black Star Line (BSL), which focused on purchasing boats and serving an international shipping triangle that would return black people to their homeland of Africa. The shipping triangle revolved around the United States, West Indies, and Africa. Marcus Garvey not only founded companies or groups, but he also founded the Negro World in 1918, which was the leading black weekly and soon had 50,000 readers in the United States, Latin America, the West Indies, and Africa. Due to itas content of black equality and freedom, the British and the French banned it from their African colonies. Even leaders who did not agree with Garveyas ideas appreciated his efforts to build black pride and political independence (Kranz, Koslow 86).
All of Marcus Garveyas accomplishments and failures had an effect on society. When it comes to the UNIA Marcus Garvey left an impact on society, which was felt immediately, and it is still felt today. By 1920, Garveyas followers were in the thousands and the UNIA had become a major organization. Also in 1920 was the first convention for the UNIA. Several thousand representatives from the United states and all over the world elected Marcus Garvey as the president of the Republic of Africa. aHistorians later noted the impossibility of a West Indian being elected in the United States and the apresidenta of Africaa (Kranz, Koslow 87). This was because African people hadnat chose Garvey for themselves and Africa was not a unified country. In-spite those historiansa rulings; this shows how much of an impact Marcus Garvey had on people in just a short period of time. Marcus Garvey not only had an effect of people back then but he still effects people today.
Political and social movements were predominating in the 1960as and early 1970as in the United States with some African Americans. aThe movement, which can be traced back to Marcus Garveyas UNIA of the 1920as, sought to acquire economic power and to infuse among blacks a sense of community and group feelinga (Online Britannica). aProvocative and idiomatic slogans of aback to Africa,a aAfrica for Africans,a and aBlack is Beautifula were rallying themes for the UNIAa (Anderson 26). Similar themes were noted to give a sense of pride in movement in the 1960as and early 1970as. They were aBlack Powera and aBlack is Beautiful.a Black nationalists sought to maintain and promote their separate identity as people of black ancestry in the 1960as and early 1970as just like Marcus Garvey did. Marcus Garvey also had many failures while promoting black individuality and equality, but that did not stop him. aGarvey raised the standard of success for blacks far above where it had ever been before-and rarely sincea (Online Britannica).
One book that I believe is worth further study is Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons written by Robert A. Hill in 1987 and published by the University of California Press. The reason I believe this is a book worth more study is because it walks though Marcus Garveyas life and it shows us that even with all of the failures and obstacles in Marcus Garveyas path he still was able to accomplish his goal of improving black equality in business. Another book that I believe deserves more study is The Biographical Dictionary of African Americans written by Rachel Kranz and Philip J. Koslow in 1999 published by Checkmark Books. The reason I think this book deserved more study is because it wraps up all of Marcus Garveyas accomplishments and failures in a nutshell and shows his courage to promote Blacks in our society. It also promotes Marcus as a vital part of Black equalityas success in business. Another reason why I think this book should be studied further is because it not only shows the impact Marcus Garvey had on society but it also has about 250 other African Americanas who have had success in their individual field. The Third book I would recommend for further study is Black Moses: the story of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association written by E. David Cronon in 1969 and published by University of Wisconsin Press. The reason I believe this is a quality book that deserves more study is because it involves Marcus Garveyas most renowned accomplishment, the organization of the UNIA. It also shows how Marcus overcame his failures to become a black role model and leader. All of the books on Marcus Garvey show people that no matter what happens, wither you fail or succeed, you can become a successful person as long as you believe in what your doing.
aBlack Nationalisma Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 24 Feb. 1999
Cronon, David E. Black Moses: The Story of Marcus Garvey and the
Universal Negro Improvement Association. Madison Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969.
Hill, Robert A. Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons. Calif.:
University of California Press, 1987.
Krans, Rachel and Philip J. Koslow, The Biographical Dictionary
Of African Americans. New York: Checkmark Books, 1999.
Rogoff, Edward G., John Trinkus, and Alvin Puryear. aPerhaps
the times have not yet caught up to Marcus Garvey, an early Champion of Ethnic Entrepreneurship.a Journal of Small Business Management 3 (1998) 66-71