Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. was born August 17th, 1887 in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica to Marcus Mosiah Garvey Sr., a stone mason, and Sarah Jane Richards, a domestic worker. He was the last of 11 children and only he and one of his sisters lived to adulthood. Garvey was largely self-educated. He became a printer’s apprentice at age 14. He traveled throughout Central America working as a newspaper editor and writing about the exploitation of migrant workers before traveling to London and attending Birkbeck College (now the University of London). He worked for the African Times and Orient Review.
In 1914, Garvey along with 5 other associates, created the Universal Negro Improvement Association. One month after the first UNIA division was established in New York in 1917, the organization reached 2 million members in the U.S. By 1914, the UNIA had 4 million members. He also created the Negro World newspaper, which at its peak had over 200,000 subscribers. Garvey held meetings and rallies as well as conventions, the largest being held at Madison Square Garden with over 25,000 attendees.
Garvey also launched the Black Star Line, a shipping company that would establish trade and commerce between Afrikans in America, the Caribbean, South and Central America, Canada, and Afrika. In addition to the Black Star Line, Garvey also established the Negro Factories Corporation in 1920. They opened a chain of grocery stores, restaurants, steam laundry shop, publishing house, doll factory, and millinery store. He was a staunch believer in us “doing for self”.
Garvey died in 1940 in London after suffering several strokes. Garvey was exhumed and taken to Jamaica, where the government of Jamaica proclaimed him national hero and re-interred him at a shrine in National Heroes Park. The accolades for Garvey could go on and on as he influenced so many of our leaders such as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, Patrice Lumumba, and many others.
Let us do as Garvey spoke, “We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, for though others may free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is our only ruler; sovereign.”
Andre’a the Tru Lioness