Marcus Garvey

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Marcus Garvey

Marcus Mosiah Garvey (born August 17, 1887 in Saint Ann's Bay , Jamaica , † June 10, 1940 in London ) was a Jamaican politician and publicist who became known as a radical Pan-Africanist and founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).


Garvey was born in Saint Ann's Bay , Jamaica, in 1887 and grew up in very humble circumstances. His father worked as a bricklayer and part of the family worked in agriculture. After finishing school, Garvey learned the trade of printer and worked in Kingston . He began to be increasingly interested in politics and became involved in trade unions, but could no longer find a job due to his anti-colonial activities. In 1912 he went to London , where he a. a. worked for the Africa Times & Orient Review , a newspaper sympathizing with Asian and African pan movements. Garvey later moved to New York City , where he worked as a speaker, association politician, publicist and impresario .

In 1914 he founded the UNIA, a black mass organization that attracted attention with uniforms and marches and promoted the emigration of all blacks to Africa. To this end, Garvey founded a shipping company, the Black Star Line .

In 1919, 32-year-old Garvey married Amy Ashwood Garvey , also a founder of the UNIA-ACL. She had previously saved his life by providing first aid after the Tyler attack . After only four months of marriage, Garvey separated from her. In 1922 Garvey married Amy Jacques Garvey who served as his general secretary. They had two sons together.

Garvey refused to collaborate with whites and sought segregation . He even cooperated with the Ku Klux Klan because he “preferred open enemies of blacks to supposed friends”. As a result, he came into conflict with the integrationist WEB du Bois and its NAACP .

In the 1920s, Garvey was credited with prophecy of the coronation of a black king in Africa who would bring the liberation of blacks. In doing so, he made a significant contribution to the development of the Rastafarian movement in his Jamaican homeland. A newspaper report he wrote in 1930 about the coronation of the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie is interpreted by supporters of the movement as a confirmation of his earlier prophecy. He proclaimed himself the "President of Africa", awarded titles of nobility and founded an "African Legion". In 1923 the Liberian government refused to establish a settlement for him.

In 1923, Garvey's shipping line went bankrupt and Garvey was sentenced to five years in prison for fraudulent bankruptcy. FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover was instrumental in the "finding of evidence", and many Garvey supporters criticized the process as a politically motivated action. In 1927 he was deported to Jamaica, where he launched various political and economic activities, largely unsuccessfully. Although his personal influence has declined, his political ideas have remained influential, for example in the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union in South Africa , especially there in the eastern Cape Province , as well as in the black civil rights movement in the USA, for example the Nation of Islam . Garvey moved to London in 1935. There he became involved against Mussolini's colonial Abyssinian War, but in the end fell out completely with his colleagues. The reason for this was u. a. a newspaper interview in which he claimed: “My supporters were the first fascists. When we had 100,000 disciplined men and trained children, Mussolini was still unknown, Mussolini copied our fascism . "

In 1940 he died lonely as a result of a stroke in London.

In November 1964, the Jamaican government had Garvey's bones transferred to the island and buried in the National Shrine of Jamaica .


Alternative position

The Afrocentric perspective of Garvey was taken up by Nelson Mandela in the course of his remarks during the Treason Trial , where he associated it with the cry of "Throws the White Man into the Sea" and used it as an "extreme" and "ultra-revolutionary" standpoint of " African nationalism ”. Mandela, on the other hand, saw his position on the basis of "inter-racial peace and progress" (German for example: "inter-ethnic peace and progress"), the goal of which he saw as ending the "white" supremacy in South African society to eliminate "exploitation and human misery ”.


  • Edmund David Cronon: Black Moses. The Story of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association . University of Wisconsin Press, Madison 1955.
  • Suzanne Francis-Brown, Jean-Jacques Vayssières: Marcus Garvey . Randle, Kingston 2007. ISBN 978-976-637-321-4 .
  • John Hope Franklin, Alfred A. Moss Jr .: From Slavery to Freedom . The history of black people in the United States. Propylaen-Taschenbuch 26550. Ullstein Verlag , Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-548-26550-2 (Original title: From slavery to freedom . Translated by Angela Adams).
  • Colin Grant: Negro with a Hat . The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey. Oxford University Press , Oxford / New York NY 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-536794-2 (English).
  • Tony Martin : Marcus Garvey Hero . A first biography. Majority Press, Dover MA 1983, ISBN 0-912469-05-6 .
  • Sebastian Stehlik: The philosophy of Marcus Garvey. The Jamaican nationalist leader and the founding of the UNIA . Diplomica Verlag, Hamburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-8366-9513-8 .
  • Adam Ewing: The Age of Garvey. How a Jamaican Activist Created a Mass Movement and Changed Global Black Politics . Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford 2014, ISBN 978-0-691-15779-5 .

Web links

Commons : Marcus Garvey  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. a b c d e Andreas Eckert: Black, beautiful and proud. In: The time of September 4, 2014.
  2. William Mugleston: Garvey, Marcus. (Biography) AmericanNational Biography Online, accessed September 14, 2014 .
  3. Monument to the Rt.Excellent Marcus Garvey (English), accessed on January 22, 2020
  4. UWI Unveils Controversial Garvey Bust , accessed January 22, 2020
  5. Garvey Statue Vandalized , accessed January 22, 2020
  6. Nelson Mandela (Red. Ruth First ): No Easy Walk to Freedom . African Writers Series No 123, Heinemann, London 1973, pp. 19-20. ISBN 0-435-90123-0