Archive for August, 2007

Happy Birthday, Marcus Garvey! — August 2007

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman August 1st, 2007

Because most of you who read my articles already know about Marcus Garvey and because you know what he stood for and what he did, this will not be a history lesson. For those of you who are not as familiar with Brother Garvey as you would like to be, please go to a black owned bookstore and get a few of the many books written about this giant.

No, this is not a history lesson. This is simply about homage, recognition, and allegiance to a Black man who loved his people so much that he sacrificed beyond what most of us would say is reasonable. This is about a man among men who told us to “rise up” and do the things we must do for ourselves to prosper in this country and around the world.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Marcus Garvey cared so much about his people that he kept coming back, even after being stymied and stigmatized by the white establishment as well as by some of his own people. After all of the negative experiences put upon him by his enemies, he kept coming back to fulfill his mission of raising the consciousness of Black people, organizing Black people, and leading Black people to economic prosperity. He even promised to come back in death as a whirlwind or a storm, bringing with him millions of Black slaves who would aid us in our fight for freedom and keep the pressure up until we have succeeded.

When you think about how hurricanes that hit the < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />United States originate near the African coast, it makes you wonder if Brother Marcus is not fulfilling some of his prophecy. In addition, considering the debacle that Firestone Tires suffered with all of the lawsuits against it a few years ago, I wonder if Marcus is finally taking his retribution for that company’s role in thwarting his work to connect Blacks in the U.S. with our brothers and sisters in Liberia and West Africa via the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). What goes around comes around. Right?

From what I recently read on Jamye Wooten’s website,, Firestone is once again doing some dirt in Liberia with the rubber industry and the workers over there. We probably need Marcus to make a “return.”

Marcus Garvey, yet another brother who departed this life much too soon, following Booker T. Washington’s shortened life and preceding our dear brother and warrior, Amos Wilson, stood tall among all men. He was principled, he had backbone, and he was fearless – all because he loved his people dearly. Love is the most powerful weapon we have. If Black folks had “Marcus Garvey Love” for one another, imagine where we would be as a people.

Brother Garvey’s life should be celebrated just as other icons of the Black experience are commemorated. After all, Garvey did what many of the others only talked about; he demonstrated the viability of economic control of our resources. Garvey showed our people how to pool our dollars and how to do for self; he carried us to new heights, collectively, by building numerous Black institutions and businesses.

Ironically, it was Brother Garvey’s dedication to true nationalism that led to his demise among those for whom he so valiantly and relentlessly fought. Unfortunately some Blacks were jealous and envious of Marcus’ ability to rally the people, to get Black people to raise huge sums of money, to march and demonstrate in overwhelming numbers, to turnout the vote in unprecedented fashion, and to deny the takeover of the UNIA by “outsiders.” Black “leaders” of his time even came up with a “Marcus must go” campaign. Can you imagine that? I certainly can; been there, done that. Anytime a strong Black man or Black woman stands up for our people, it is almost inevitable that another Black person will lead the charge against them.

Too often we forget, if we ever knew it at all, the importance of our brothers and sisters who stood tall on our behalf. Marcus Garvey, born August 17, 1887, is certainly deserving of our recognition and our honor. His words, “All I have I have given you,” are exemplary of this man’s love for us. We should be proud of his accomplishments, and it would be wonderful if we would emulate his spirit, his love, and his tenacity as we make our way to economic freedom. Celebrate Marcus Garvey’s birthday this year as you never have before!

I will close with a portion of Marcus Garvey’s letter from the Atlanta prison to which he was sent as a result of trumped-up charges and a “kangaroo court. He was later deported.

“I have sacrificed my home and my loving wife for you. I entrust her to your charge… I have left her penniless and helpless to face the world, because I gave all, but her courage is great, and I know she will hold up for you and me… After my enemies are satisfied, in life or death I shall come back to you to serve even as I have served before. In life I shall be the same; in death I shall be a terror to the foes of Negro liberty. If death has power, then count on me in death to be the real Marcus Garvey I would like to be. I may come in an earthquake, or a cyclone, or plague, or pestilence, or as God would have me, then be assured that I will never desert you and make your enemies triumph over you.”

Happy Birthday, Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey! We honor you.