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The Impact of Marcus Garvey
by John Henrik Clarke

When Marcus Garvey died in 1940 the role of the British Empire was already being challenged by India and the rising expectations of her African colonies. Marcus Garvey's avocation of African redemption and the restoration of the African state's sovereign political entity in world affairs was still a dream without fulfillment.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, the United States would enter, in a formal way, what had been up to that date strictly a European conflict. Marcus Garvey's prophesy about the European scramble to maintain dominance over the whole world was now a reality. The people of Africa and Asia had joined in this conflict but with different hopes, different dreams and many misgivings. Africans throughout the colonial world were mounting campaigns against this system which had robbed them of their nation-ness and their basic human-ness. The discovery and the reconsideration of the teachings of the honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey were being rediscovered and reconsidered by a large number of African people as this world conflict deepened.


In 1945, when World War II was drawing to a close the 5th Pan-African Congress was called in Manchester, England. Some of the conventioneers were: George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, W.E.B. Dubois, Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya. Up to this time the previous Pan-African Congresses had mainly called for improvements in the educational status of the Africans in the colonies so that they would be prepared for self-rule when independence eventually came.

The Pan-African Congress in Manchester was radically different from all of the other congresses. For the first time Africans from Africa, Africans from the Caribbean and Africans from the United States had come together and designed a program for the future independence of Africa. Those who attended the conference were of many political persuasions and different ideologies, yet the teachings of Marcus Garvey were the main ideological basis for the 5th Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England in 1945.


Some of the conveners of this congress would return to Africa in the ensuing years to eventually lead their respective nations toward independence and beyond. In 1947, a Ghanaian student who had studied ten years in the United States, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah returned to Ghana on the invitation of Joseph B. Danquah, his former schoolmaster. Nkrumah would later become Prime Minister. In his fight for the complete independence for the Gold Coast later to be known as Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah acknowledged his political indebtedness to the political teachings of Marcus Garvey.

On September 7, 1957, Ghana became a free self-governing nation, the first member of the British Commonwealth of Nations to become self-governing. Ghana would later develop a Black Star Line patterned after the maritime dreams of Marcus Garvey. My point here is that the African Independence Explosion, which started with the independence of Ghana, was symbolically and figuratively bringing the hopes of Marcus Garvey alive.


In the Caribbean Islands the concept of Federation and Political union of all the islands was now being looked upon as a realizable possibility. Some constitutional reforms and changing attitudes, born of this awareness, were improving the life of the people of these islands.

In the United States the Supreme Court's decision of 1954, outlawing segregation in school systems was greeted with mixed feelings of hope and skepticism by African-Americans. A year after this decision the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Freedom Rides and the demand for equal pay for Black teachers that subsequently became a demand for equal education for all, would become part of the central force that would set the fight for liberation in motion.

The enemies of Africans, the world over were gathering their counter-forces while a large number of them pretended to be sympathetic to the African's cause. Some of these pretenders, both Black and White, were F.B.I. and other agents of the government whose mission it was to frustrate and destroy the Civil Rights Movement. In a different way the same thing was happening in Africa. The coups and counter-coups kept most African states from developing into the strong independent and sovereign states they had hoped to become.


While the Africans had gained control over their state's apparatus, the colonialist's still controlled the economic apparatus of most African states. Africans were discovering to their amazement that a large number of the Africans, who had studied abroad were a detriment to the aims and goals of their nation. None of them had been trained to rule an African state by the use of the best of African traditional forms and strategies. As a result African states, in the main, became imitations of European states and most of their leaders could justifiably be called Europeans with black faces. They came to power without improving the lot of their people and these elitist governments continue until this day.

In most cases what went wrong was that as these leaders failed to learn the lessons of self-reliance and power preparation as advocated by Marcus Garvey and in different ways by Booker T. Washington, W.E.B Dubois, Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. Africa became infiltrated by foreign agents. Africans had forgotten, if they knew at all, that Africa is the world's richest continent, repository of the greatest mineral wealth in the world. They had not asked themselves nor answered the most critical question. If Africa is the world's richest continent, why is it so full of poor people? Marcus Garvey advocated that Africans control the wealth of Africa. He taught that control, control of resources, control of self, control of nation, requires preparation, Garveyism was about total preparation.


There is still no unified force in Africa calling attention to the need for this kind of preparation. This preparation calls for a new kind of education if Africans are to face the reality of their survival.

Africans in the United States must remember that the slave ships brought no West Indians, no Caribbeans, no Jamaicans or Trinidadians or Barbadians to this hemisphere. The slave ships brought only African people and most of us took the semblance of nationality from the places where slave ships dropped us off. In the 500 year process of oppression the Europeans have displaced our God, our culture, and our traditions. They have violated our women to the extent that they have created a bastard race who is confused as to whether to be loyal to its mother's people or its fathers people and for the most part they remain loyal to neither. I do not think African people can succeed in the world until the hear again Marcus Garvey's call: AFRICA FOR THE AFRICANS, THOSE AT HOME AND ABROAD.

We must regain our confidence in ourselves as a people and learn again the methods and arts of controlling nations. We must hear again Marcus Garvey calling out to us: UP! UP! YOU MIGHTY RACE! YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH WHAT YOU WILL
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broscream Thanks for that information on Marcus Garvey & Africa...Keep on informing the people...
Moving right along..i am starting a talkg N walkg black is open 2 all races..that believe in it..i believe you would be a good assest..i look forward to hearing from you asap..there are others who are recruiting in the if you have received an email from one them & contacted them..please disregard this one..& keep up the good work..

Change begins with U & ME
Marcus Garvey did say" Africa for the Africans at home and abroad." He very much taught us Africans Unity & Nationalism. So we must pull and push together, until the great Continent of Africa and her people the world overare totally free. Respect for responding!

TALKGnWALKG let me know how I can help, my email:



[This message was edited by Afroman on October 29, 2003 at 12:56 AM.]
You know I was talking to a leading Politician from Ghana and one of the founding fathers of the NDC, the party that ruled Ghana for about 20 years. I asked him why is it that Western blacks like Garvey and Padmore literally brought independence to all of Africa and Africans did not and have not involved western blacks HEAVILY in the affairs of Africa?

He looked at me and said, "You and your organization should make sure that never happens again." I said to him, "I am just an ordinary citizen and not even a Politician, what can I do that you can't do?" "Exactly why you would succeed where we failed" he said

At this the penny dropped. Africa has NEVER been free, the whole idea of independent Africa is a charade, a sham. We have tried to play the white man in his own game that he has invented and is clever at and we have been beaten soundly and lost miserably, we have never been free, we have only been made to think we were. From the early days of African independence till now we have been masterfully maneouvered and cleverly controlled. All our minerals and natural resoures have either been taken over or price controlled in such a way so much so that we are never the masters of our own destiny. Black leaders from Garvey to African leaders who have tried to break free have been skillfully removed and in their place the white man has allowed only well groomed house slaves as leaders and Presidents. If you don't tow the line you risk being branded an agitator or a communist. This is where we are now.

The only way we can break free once and for all is to join forces and correct that first mistake. That is we have to have an organization that is made up of Africans and western blacks that would boldly take back Africa and its riches and make it our own - the property of all black people wherever we are in the world. The reason why we would succeed is because with such an organization, if western governments go against African interests they would be fighting against American black voters and if these voters form and have a powerful lobby, the consequencies could be very unpleasant for the western governments indeed. We can do it people, lets do it.

Is it just talk or are you for solutions? If you are GENUINELY interested in solving black problems? Then join us at
Marcus Garvey was highly influencial, not just to the African Diaspora, but world wide. One thing that I was surprised to find out was while Ho Chi Minh was a sailor he would attend meetings of UNIA in New York City. So I guess the proof is in the pudding. Marcus Garvey's ideology did work in this instance. Although Ho Chi Minh met with maximum resistance from the West, as assasination was his fate, liberation did work in his country.

Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society
Malcolm X, 1965

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