Born in 1887, he created a movement that is still celebrated to this day. A national hero in his country of birth, he is regarded as one of black history’s most influential figures and made this statement (below) as part of an essay titled An Appeal to the Conscience of the Black Race to See Itself.
Keen to stand up against injustice from his early years, he became a printer’s apprentice after leaving school at the age of 14, and in this job he led a strike for higher wages.
But it was his hard work to ensure the progress of black people – specifically his movement to encourage black Americans to return to Africa, their ancestral homeland – that led this Jamaican-born activist to be declared his country’s first national hero.
It is of course Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
Born in St Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1914. Two years later, he moved to New York – where UNIA thrived – and became a skilled public speaker.
He urged black Americans to be proud of their race and return to Africa, in a project famously known as the Back To Africa movement.
In order to facilitate this mass movement to the Motherland, in 1919 Garvey founded the Black Star Line; a shipping line that provided transportation to Africa, as well as the Negro Factories Corporation to encourage black economic independence.
In 1922, Garvey was arrested for mail fraud in connection with the sale of stock in the Black Star Line; an accusation that many considered to be unfounded and politically motivated, as the activist had by then attracted considerable government attention.
He was sent to prison and subsequently deported to Jamaica. He moved to London in 1935 and resided there until his death in 1940. His body was returned to Jamaica in 1964 and there, he was declared the country’s first national hero.
Activist, pioneer and entrepreneur and, here’s saluting Marcus Garvey; a celebrated and revered black hero.