Remembering Marcus Garvey: Still Relevant Today

Go Lean Commentary

The relations between the Caribbean and the United States of America have had a bumpy ride in the past. Consider just these few incidences:

But now, the people of the Caribbean has forgiven the US and now approve “life” within its borders….

… as so many Caribbean citizens have now fled to life in the US, as residents. There has been some reconciliation of the past … to allow for this normalized status quo.

But there is one more rift in the Caribbean-American history to consider, that of Marcus Garvey. Can this historicity also be re-approached, revisited, redeemed and reconciled? Is there a need for repentance?

In a previous commentary from this Go Lean movement, it was established how we cannot always leave past events in the past. At times, we must re-approach historic injustices so as to recognize the pain and legacy caused; only then can true reconciliation occur.

America had a bad legacy in terms of race relations. Has that country of the US reformed since the days of Marcus Garvey?

Accordingly, some stakeholders in the US Congress want that repentance, in the form of a posthumous pardon. See the story here:

CU Blog - Remembering Marcus Garvey - Still Relevant Today - Photo 3Title: U.S. Congresswoman Wants President Obama to Pardon Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey, Jamaica’s national hero who was charged with mail fraud in the United States could be in line for a presidential pardon if Congresswoman Yvette Clarke gets her way. Clarke is working to ensure that Garvey is exonerated before Obama steps down from his post in January 2017. Clarke announced the potential action in a speech to the Jamaica Diaspora after receiving the first Talawah Award for Politics. According to Clarke, two other congressional representatives – Charles Rangel and John Conyers – will join her in making sure that Garvey receives a pardon and that his name is cleared.

In 1923, Garvey was arrested in the U.S. on charges of mail fraud and spent two years in a federal prison before being deported back to Jamaica. In the years following, a number of governments and organizations lobbied authorities in the U.S. to expunge the record of Jamaica’s national hero. Clarke was one of seven Jamaicans presented with the Inaugural Talawah Awards for their contributions to both their homeland and their adopted home.
Source: – Lifestyle E-zine; posted: 05/15/2016; Retrieved 08/19/2016 from:

The subject of Marcus Garvey – see Appendix & VIDEO below – is very important from a Jamaican perspective. He is considered a National Hero in his homeland, where he was awarded the “Order of National Hero” posthumously in 1964; an esteemed honor awarded by the government (Parliament) of Jamaica and one of its first official acts after independence.

But the story of Marcus Garvey is more than just a “treasure to one, trash to another” consideration. Recognizing Jamaican value and worth, means recognizing Jamaica’s endurance despite a history of oppression, repression and suppression. Remember, there was a world, not very long ago, of no civil rights and intensed colonization. Marcus Garvey transcended that world. In effect, Jamaicans are saying to the world: “You see Marcus Garvey; you see me”.

Garvey was given major prominence as a national hero during Jamaica’s move towards independence. As such, he has numerous tributes there. The first of these is the Garvey statue and shrine in Kingston’s National Heroes Park. Among the honors to him in Jamaica are his name upon the Jamaican Ministry of Foreign Affairs; a major highway bearing his name and the Marcus Garvey Scholarship tenable at the University of the West Indies sponsored by The National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations, Inc (NAJASO) since 1988.

Garvey’s birthplace, 32 Market Street, St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, has a marker signifying it as a site of importance in the nation’s history.[64]His likeness is on the 20-dollar coin and 25-cent coin. Garvey’s recognition is probably most significant in Kingston, Jamaica.
Source: Retrieved August 20, 2016 from:

The book Go Lean…Caribbean posits that any attempt at unification of the Caribbean 30 member-states must consider the ancient and modern injustices some member-states have experienced (within themselves and with other nations). The book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). A mission of the roadmap is to champion the cause of Caribbean Image. For far too long, Caribbean people have been classified as “Less Than”, as parasites rather than protégés. Therefore an additional mission of the roadmap is to facilitate formal reconciliations, (much consideration is given to the model in South Africa with their Truth & Reconciliation Commissions (TRC)). But this commentary posits, that we need reconciliations in foreign relations too, (i.e. Caribbean / United States).

The approach is simple, correct the bad “community ethos” from the past. The African-American and African-Caribbean populations were oppressed, repressed an suppressed in the “White” world of the 1920’s. A good “community ethos” now is to repent, forgive and reconcile from that legacy.

“Community Ethos” is described in the Go Lean book as the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; the dominant assumptions of a people or period. America has surely transformed – the current President, Barack Obama is of African-American heritage. Has that transformation advanced to the point of taking ownership of past misdeeds.

We truly hope so! But show us, by recognizing and redeeming the bad acts of the US federal government against Marcus Garvey. This year marks the 8th and final year of the Obama administration. He has always had the power to grant a pardon to the “good name” of Marcus Garvey. When requested before in 2011, his stance was that it is his policy not to consider requests for posthumous pardons. His assertion is that they should be enjoyed only by the living.

But more is involved, Mr. President. A pardon would send a message to the world about African-American and African-Caribbean heroes:

In hindsight, they should be held in high esteem for doing so much in a world that valued them so little!

The historicity of Marcus Garvey is a powerful role model for today’s Caribbean. He was truly an Advocate for the African race universally. (This race represents the majority of the population of all the Caribbean member-states except the French Overseas Territory of Saint Barthélemy). He championed this cause in words (speeches and writings), actions, commitments and sacrifice. He truly gave a full measure of blood, sweat and tears. He presented his vision and values in his quest to unify and elevate the Black race.

Our emulation of Marcus Garvey is a lot less ambitious, rather than the African-ethnic world, our scope is just the elevation of the 30 Caribbean member-states. Rather than the narrow focus of Blacks in general, our scope involves all current Caribbean ethnicities and languages. We are trying to “raise the tide in the Caribbean waters so that all boats will be elevated”. Further, as communicated in previous blog-commentaries, we are not trying to impact the United States of America – beyond help to our Diaspora – nor the continent of Africa – beyond providing them a great model of our technocratic deliveries. Our mission is a lot more laser-focused than that of Marcus Garvey; we are simply trying to make our Caribbean homeland a better place to live, work and play.

This CU/Go Lean mission is to elevate Caribbean society through cutting edge delivery of best practices, strategies, tactics and implementations. The prime directives of this movement is defined as the following 3 statements:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus for public safety and to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The Go Lean book speaks of the Caribbean past, as it relates to the American past. The legacy of the common sufferings of slavery and racial repression should create a common bond; this bond should unite all of the Black World. It should also unite the Caribbean into accepting a premise of interdependence for solutions in the economic-security-governance eco-systems. This common need was defined early in the book (Page 10) in the following pronouncements in the Declaration of Interdependence:

Preamble: As the history of our region and the oppression, suppression and repression of its indigenous people is duly documented, there is no one alive who can be held accountable for the prior actions, and so we must put aside the shackles of systems of repression to instead formulate efficient and effective systems to steer our own destiny.

As the colonial history of our region was initiated to create economic expansion opportunities for our previous imperial masters, the structures of government instituted in their wake have not fostered the best systems for prosperity of the indigenous people. Despite this past, we thrust our energies only to the future, in adapting the best practices and successes of the societies of these previous imperial masters and recognizing the positive spirit of their intent and vow to learn from their past accomplishments and mistakes so as to optimize the opportunities for our own citizenry to create a more perfect bond of union.

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens, residents, allies, trading partners, and visitors of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.

xiii. Whereas the legacy of dissensions in many member-states (for example: Haiti and Cuba) will require a concerted effort to integrate the exile community’s repatriation, the Federation must arrange for Reconciliation Commissions to satiate a demand for justice.

The Go Lean book details a lot more, a series of assessments, community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to glean lessons from history and impact the Caribbean-side of the common Black experience:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification – Example of Black America of Olden Days Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influence Choices & Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact Turn-Arounds Page 33
Community Ethos – Ways to Manage Reconciliations Page 34
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Confederating a Non-Sovereign Union of 30 Member-states Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Keep the next generation at home; Repatriate Diaspora Page 46
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Truth & Reconciliation Courts Page 78
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Reasons to Repatriate Page 118
Anatomy of Advocacies Page 122
Planning – Ways to Improve Image Page 133
Planning – Improve Failed-State Indices Page 134
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Justice – Truth & Reconciliation Commissions Page 177
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Hollywood – Managing Image through Films Page 203
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage Page 218

The foregoing article relates the second request to US President Obama to extend a pardon to the legacy of Marcus Garvey. This is important to “us” in the Caribbean.

Just do it!

Obama claims to be a friend of the Caribbean, though many times his policies have worked contrary to the Caribbean’s best interests. Consider these examples: Obama – Bad For Caribbean Status Quo A Lesson Learned from Obama’s Caribbean Visit Obama’s Plans for $3.7 Billion Immigration Crisis Funds

The Go Lean/CU roadmap addresses the past, present and future challenges of Caribbean empowerment and image.

Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, the people and governing institutions, to lean-in for the empowerments described in the book Go Lean … Caribbean. There is reason to believe that these empowerment efforts can be successful. We have the legacy of so many National Heroes; we can now stand on their shoulders and reach even greater heights.

The Go Lean roadmap conveys how single causes have successfully been forged throughout the world (Page 122 – Anatomy of Advocacies) by individual Advocates. There is consideration for these examples:

Please note, while this movement petitions for reconciliation of the sullied past in race relations, there is no request for reparations. The Go Lean book punctuates this point with the following quotation:

We cannot ignore the past, as it defines who we are, but we do not wish to be shackled to the past either, for then, we miss the future. So we must learn from the past, our experiences and that of other states in similar situations, mount our feet solidly to the ground and then lean-in, to reach for new heights; forward, upward and onward. – Page 5

The new ethos being developed for the Caribbean by this Go Lean movement, is to reconcile conflicts from the past; to repent, forgive and hopefully forget the long history of human rights abuses from the past. All of this effort is heavy-lifting, but the Bible gives us an assurance that makes all the effort worthwhile:

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. – John 8:32; New International Version


Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix VIDEO – Marcus Garvey — Look For Me In The Whirlwind (Review)

Published on Oct 8, 2012 – Black History Studies team (BHS) presents their Marcus Garvey screening, at the Marcus Garvey Centre in Tottenham. Sis Sonia Scully interviews film goers in the break, to find out how they’re receiving the Friday Black History Month screenings.


Appendix – Marcus Garvey Biography Wiki

Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., (17 August 1887 – 10 June 1940),[2] was a Jamaican political leader, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator who was a proponent of the Pan-Africanism movement, to which end he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL).[3] He also founded the Black Star Line, a shipping and passenger line which promoted the return of the African diaspora to their ancestral lands.

CU Blog - Remembering Marcus Garvey - Still Relevant Today - Photo 1Prior to the 20th century, leaders such as Prince HallMartin DelanyEdward Wilmot Blyden, and Henry Highland Garnet advocated the involvement of the African diaspora in African affairs. Garvey was unique in advancing a Pan-African philosophy to inspire a global mass movement and economic empowerment focusing on Africa known as Garveyism.[3] Promoted by the UNIA as a movement of African Redemption, Garveyism would eventually inspire others, ranging from the Nation of Islam to the Rastafari movement (some sects of which proclaim Garvey as a prophet.)[4]

Garveyism intended persons of African ancestry in the diaspora to “redeem” the nations of Africa and for the European colonial powers to leave the continent. His essential ideas about Africa were stated in an editorial in the Negro World entitled “African Fundamentalism”, where he wrote: “Our union must know no clime, boundary, or nationality… to let us hold together under all climes and in every country…”[5]

After years of working in the Caribbean, Garvey left Jamaica to live in London from 1912 to 1914, where he attended Birkbeck College, taking classes in law and philosophy. He also worked for the African Times and Orient Review, published by Dusé Mohamed Ali, who was a considerable influence on the young man. Garvey sometimes spoke at Hyde Park‘s Speakers’ Corner.

In 1914, Garvey returned to Jamaica, where he organized the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

The UNIA held an international convention in 1921 at New York City’s MadisonSquareGarden. Also represented at the convention were organizations such as the Universal Black Cross Nurses, the Black Eagle Flying Corps, and the Universal African Legion. Garvey attracted more than 50,000 people to the event and in his cause. The UNIA had 65,000 to 75,000 members paying dues to his support and funding. The national level of support in Jamaica helped Garvey to become one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century on the island.[13]

After corresponding with Booker T. Washington, head of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and a national African-American leader in the United States, Garvey traveled by ship to the U.S., arriving on 23 March 1916 aboard the SS Tallac. He intended to make a lecture tour and to raise funds to establish a school in Jamaica modeled after Washington’s Institute. Garvey visited Tuskegee, and afterwards, visited with a number of black leaders.

After moving to New York, he found work as a printer by day. He was influenced by Hubert Harrison. At night he would speak on street corners, much as he did in London’s Hyde Park. Garvey thought there was a leadership vacuum among African Americans. On 9 May 1916, he held his first public lecture in New York City at St Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery and undertook a 38-state speaking tour.

The next year in May 1917, Garvey and thirteen others formed the first UNIA division outside Jamaica. They began advancing ideas to promote social, political, and economic freedom for black people. On 2 July, the East St. Louis riots broke out. On 8 July, Garvey delivered an address, entitled “The Conspiracy of the East St. Louis Riots”, at Lafayette Hall in Harlem. During the speech, he declared the riot was “one of the bloodiest outrages against mankind”, condemning America’s claims to represent democracy when black people were victimized “for no other reason than they are black people seeking an industrial chance in a country that they have laboured for three hundred years to make great”. It is “a time to lift one’s voice against the savagery of a people who claim to be the dispensers of democracy”.[14]

Garvey worked to develop a program to improve the conditions of ethnic Africans “at home and abroad” under UNIA auspices. On 17 August 1918, he began publishing the Negro World newspaper in New York, which was widely distributed. Garvey worked as an editor without pay until November 1920. He used Negro World as a platform for his views to encourage growth of the UNIA.[15] By June 1919, the membership of the organization had grown to over two million, according to its records.

On 27 June 1919, the UNIA set up its first business, incorporating the Black Star Line of Delaware, with Garvey as President. By September, it acquired its first ship. Much fanfare surrounded the inspection of the S.S. Yarmouth and its rechristening as the S.S. Frederick Douglass on 14 September 1919. Such a rapid accomplishment garnered attention from many.[15] The Black Star Line also formed a fine winery, using grapes harvested only in Ethiopia. During the first year, the Black Star Line’s stock sales brought in $600,000. This caused it to be successful during that year. It had numerous problems during the next two years: mechanical breakdowns on its ships, what it said were incompetent workers, and poor record keeping. The officers were eventually accused of mail fraud.[15]

Edwin P. Kilroe, Assistant District Attorney in the District Attorney’s office of the County of New York, began an investigation into the activities of the UNIA. He never filed charges against Garvey or other officers.

By August 1920, the UNIA claimed four million members. The number has been questioned because of the organization’s poor record keeping.[15] That month, the International Convention of the UNIA was held. With delegates from all over the world attending, 25,000 people filled Madison Square Garden on 1 August 1920 to hear Garvey speak.[16]Over the next couple of years, Garvey’s movement was able to attract an enormous number of followers. Reasons for this included the cultural revolution of the Harlem Renaissance, the large number of West Indians who immigrated to New York, and the appeal of the slogan “One God, One Aim, One Destiny,” to black veterans of the first World War.[17]

CU Blog - Remembering Marcus Garvey - Still Relevant Today - Photo 2Garvey also established the business, the Negro Factories Corporation. He planned to develop the businesses to manufacture every marketable commodity in every big U.S. industrial center, as well as in Central America, the West Indies, and Africa. Related endeavors included a grocery chain, restaurant, publishing house, and other businesses.

Convinced that black people should have a permanent homeland in Africa, Garvey sought to develop Liberia. It had been founded by the American Colonization Society in the 19th century as a colony to free blacks from the United States. Garvey launched the Liberia program in 1920, intended to build colleges, industrial plants, and railroads as part of an industrial base from which to operate. He abandoned the program in the mid-1920s after much opposition from European powers with interests in Liberia.

Sometime around November 1919, the Bureau of Investigation or BOI (after 1935, the Federal Bureau of Investigation) began an investigation into the activities of Garvey and the UNIA. … Although initial efforts by the BOI were to find grounds upon which to deport Garvey as “an undesirable alien”, a charge of mail fraud was brought against Garvey in connection with stock sales of the Black Star Line after the U.S. Post Office and the Attorney General joined the investigation.[36]

The accusation centered on the fact that the corporation had not yet purchased a ship, which had appeared in a BSL brochure emblazoned with the name “Phyllis Wheatley” (after the African-American poet) on its bow. The prosecution stated that a ship pictured with that name had not actually been purchased by the BSL and still had the name “Orion” at the time; thus the misrepresentation of the ship as a BSL-owned vessel constituted fraud. The brochure had been produced in anticipation of the purchase of the ship, which appeared to be on the verge of completion at the time. However, “registration of the Phyllis Wheatley to the Black Star Line was thrown into abeyance as there were still some clauses in the contract that needed to be agreed.”[37] In the end, the ship was never registered to the BSL.

Garvey chose to defend himself. In the opinion of his biographer Colin Grant, Garvey’s “belligerent” manner alienated the jury. … Of the four Black Star Line officers charged in connection with the enterprise, only Garvey was found guilty of using the mail service to defraud. His supporters called the trial fraudulent, [a miscarriage of justice].

He initially spent three months in the Tombs Jail awaiting approval of bail. While on bail, he continued to maintain his innocence, travel, speak and organize the UNIA. After numerous attempts at appeal were unsuccessful, he was taken into custody and began serving his sentence at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary on 8 February 1925.[41] Two days later, he penned his well known “First Message to the Negroes of the World From Atlanta Prison”, wherein he made his famous proclamation: “Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm, look for me all around you, for, with God’s grace, I shall come and bring with me countless millions of black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for Liberty, Freedom and Life.”[42]

Garvey’s sentence was eventually commuted by President Calvin Coolidge. Upon his release in November 1927, Garvey was deported via New Orleans to Jamaica, where a large crowd met him in Kingston. Though the popularity of the UNIA diminished greatly following Garvey’s expulsion, he nevertheless remained committed to his political ideals.[44]

Garvey continued active in international civil rights, politics and business in the West Indies and Europe.

Garvey died in London on 10 June 1940, at the age of 52, having suffered two strokes. Due to travel restrictions during World War II, his body was interred (no burial mentioned but preserved in a lead-lined coffin) within the lower crypt in St. Mary’s Catholic cemetery in London near KensalGreenCemetery. Twenty years later, his body was removed from the shelves of the lower crypt and taken to Jamaica, where the government proclaimed him Jamaica’s first national hero and re-interred him at a shrine in the National Heroes Park.[52]


Schools, colleges, highways, and buildings in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States have been named in his honor. The UNIA red, black, and green flag has been adopted as the Black Liberation Flag. Since 1980, Garvey’s bust has been housed in the Organization of American States‘ Hall of Heroes in Washington, D.C.

Malcolm X‘s parents, Earl and Louise Little, met at a UNIA convention in Montreal. Earl was the president of the UNIA division in Omaha, Nebraska, and sold the Negro World newspaper, for which Louise covered UNIA activities.[53]

Kwame Nkrumah named the national shipping line of Ghana the Black Star Line in honor of Garvey and the UNIA. Nkrumah also named the national football team the Black Stars as well. The black star at the centre of Ghana’s flag is also inspired by the Black Star.

During a trip to Jamaica, Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott King visited Garvey’s shrine on 20 June 1965 and laid a wreath.[54] In a speech he told the audience that Garvey “was the first man of color to lead and develop a mass movement. He was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny. And make the Negro feel he was somebody.”[55]

King was a posthumous recipient of the first Marcus Garvey Prize for Human Rights on 10 December 1968, issued by the Jamaican Government and presented to King’s widow. In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Garvey on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[56]

Source: Retrieved August 20, 2016 from:


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