Marcus Garvey (1887-1940)


  • People should be proud of their blackness.

  • · Africans are one nation, wherever they are.

Marcus Garvey was born in Jamaica and an early advocate of Pan-Africanism, founding the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) as well as pioneering black nationalism.

Garvey was the founder in 1914 of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIP). He left Jamaica for New York in 1916, where his message of black pride and economic self-sufficiency gained him a growing following, particularly in ghettos such as Harlem. Although his black business enterprises failed, and his call for a return to Africa was largely ignored, Garvey’s emphasis on establishing black pride and his vision of Africa as a ‘homeland’ provided the basis for the later Black Power movement. Rastafarianism is also based largely on his ideas. Garvey’s idea of Africa for the Africans was associated with a call to unite the continent from Cairo to the Cape, which had a profound impact on emerging pan-Africanism and inspired figures such as Kwame Nkrumah, the first prime minister and president of Ghana. At its core, Pan-Africanism is a belief that "African people, both on the continent and in the across the world, share not merely a common history, but a common destiny". Pan-Africanist intellectual, cultural and political movements tend to view all Africans and descendants of Africans as belonging to a single "race" and sharing cultural unity. Pan-Africanism is a form of expansionist nationalism which promotes a sense of a shared historical fate for Africans in America, West Indies and on the continent itself centered on the Atlantic trade in slaves, African slavery and European imperialism. Marcus Garvey's ideas influence groups such as the Black Panthers and the Black Muslims (later the Nation of Islam).

Garvey was imprisoned for mail fraud in 1923, and was later deported, eventually dying in London.

· Black Pride: Garvey encouraged African people around the world to be proud of their race and to see beauty in their own kind. His central belief was that African people in every part of the world were one people and that they would never progress if they did not put aside their cultural and ethnic differences. Garvey's ultimate dream was for the creation of a United States of Africa. Garvey set the precedent for subsequent black nationalist and Pan-Africanist thought.

· Pan-Africanism: Garvey advanced a Pan-African philosophy. He wished to inspire a global mass-movement and-economic empowerment focusing on Africa, where he sought to end imperialist rule and create modern societies. He argued that black people would be respected only when they were economically strong and proposed an independent black economy. He connected black communities on three continents with his newspaper the Negro World and formed the Black Star Line shipping company to provide transport and to encourage trade among black businesses of Africa and the Americas.

· Separatism: Although Garvey was a supporter of racial separatism, he believed that humans were all equal and did not wish to create a hostile atmosphere with white people. The purpose of separatism was to empower black people and to enable them to find an identity.