Marcus Garvey was a prominent figure in the political history of Africans. Besides, he was a journalist, entrepreneur, orator and publisher. Being a strong proponent of the Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism movements, Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. He promoted the cause of bringing back the African Diaspora to their ancestral lands by establishing Black Star Line.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. was born on 17 August 1887 in Saint Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. His father was a mason and mother was a domestic worker. Among his eleven elder siblings, he and his sister were the only ones to survive to adulthood. Given the circumstances of that time, Garvey’s family was financially stable. His father had a huge library which inculcated the love of reading in him. He received his elementary education from St. Ann’s Bay. In his school years, he witnessed racism for the first time. In his childhood, Garvey’s white neighbors were nice to him. However, when he grew up he noticed the change in his white peers’ behaviour as they began to shun him.
In his youth, Garvey became apprentice to his uncle who also happened to have an extensive collection of books in his library which he made the most of. Upon the turn of century, Garvey left Jamaica to journey through Central America. He first went to Costa Rica, where he worked at a banana plantation as a time keeper and then he edited La Nacionale, a daily newspaper. Subsequently, he moved to London to study at Birkbeck College, where he attended law and philosophy courses. Moreover, he served at Dusé Mohamed Ali’s African Times and Orient Review. Besides Ali, Garvey was influenced by African-American politicians, such as Martin Delany and Booker T. Washington.
Upon completion of his studies, Garvey returned to Jamaica and formed the social organization Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). The organization’s motto was, “One God, One Aim, One Destiny”, based by Mohamed Ali’s Islamic beliefs. In 1921, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, UNIA held an international convention. It was Garvey’s effort that over fifty thousand people turned up at the event. The supporters of the organization in Jamaica made him one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. He also traveled to America by ship in 1916 after corresponding with Booker T. Washington, in order to raise fund for the establishment of schools in Jamaica. He found work in New York as a printer and the rest of the time he spent promoting his cause in the streets.
For his countrymen, Garvey invested his energy into developing a program which would help improve the conditions of ethnic Africans brother in Jamaica and abroad. In 1918, he took up a job as an editor and published the Negro World newspaper in New York. He remained unpaid for his editing work until 1920. The reason behind his selfless input in the newspaper is that he considered it to be the platform that would help grow his organization by spreading awareness. The UNIA grew by leaps and bound as it reached over two million members by 1919.
Marcus Garvey’s made relentless efforts to redeem the African ancestry by bringing back its diaspora and free his nation from colonial powers. He wanted his countrymen to unite in this cause to free themselves from foreign suffocating forces.