Marcus Mosiah Garvey was a man that lived a life with a mission. Although his journey may have seemed impossible, his never-ending strength and dedication caused many people’s dreams and wishes to become realities. Garvey is considered a prophet by his followers, because of the inspiration he brought to the black race. He took a group of people that thought they had no place in this world and united them together which gave them pride in their race. He also had a tremendous affect on the creation of Rastafarianism. Even though he could not find enough support for his movement to succeed in Jamaica, Garvey gave Rasta’s the guidance they needed to rise above their oppressors which led them to create a movement for the black race in Jamaica. When Marcus Mosiah Garvey passed away his words were not forgotten. His message is still alive in reggae music and his actions have greatly impacted the black race.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., ONH (17 August 1887 – 10 June 1940), was a Jamaican political leader, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator who was a proponent of the Pan-Africanism movement, to which end he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). He also founded the Black Star Line, a shipping and passenger line which promoted the return of the African diaspora to their ancestral lands.
Prior to the 20th century, leaders such as Prince Hall, Martin Delany, Edward Wilmot Blyden, and Henry Highland Garnet advocated the involvement of the African diaspora in African affairs. Garvey was unique in advancing a Pan-African philosophy to inspire a global mass movement and economic empowerment focusing on Africa known as Garveyism. Promoted by the UNIA as a movement of African Redemption, Garveyism would eventually inspire others, ranging from the Nation of Islam to the Rastafari movement (some sects of which proclaim Garvey as a prophet.)
Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. was born as the youngest of eleven children in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, to Marcus Mosiah Garvey Sr, mason, and Sarah Jane Richards, a domestic worker. Only he, and his sister, Indiana, survived to adulthood. His family was financially stable given the circumstances of this time period. Garvey’s father had a large library, and it was from his father that Marcus gained his love for reading. He also attended elementary schools in St. Ann’s Bay during his youth. While attending these schools, Garvey first began to experience racism. At age 14, Marcus became a printer’s apprentice. In 1903, he traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, and soon became involved in union activities. In 1907, he took part in an unsuccessful printer’s strike and the experience gave him a passion for political activism. In 1910 Garvey left Jamaica and began traveling throughout the Central American region. His first stop was Costa Rica, where he had a maternal uncle. He lived in Costa Rica for several months and worked as a time keeper on a banana plantation. He began work as editor for a daily newspaper called La Nacionale in 1911. Later that year, he moved to Colón, Panama, where he edited a biweekly newspaper, before returning to Jamaica in 1912. Over time, Marcus Garvey became influenced by many civil rights activists of his time. He ultimately combined the economic nationalist ideas of Booker T. Washington and Pan-Africanists with the political possibilities and urban style of men and women living outside of plantation and colonial societies.
After years of working in the Caribbean, Garvey left Jamaica to live in London from 1912 to 1914, where he attended Birkbeck College, taking classes in law and philosophy. He also worked for the African Times and Orient Review, published by Dusé Mohamed Ali, who was a considerable influence on the young man. Garvey sometimes spoke at Hyde Park’s Speakers’ Corner.
Garvey died in London on 10 June 1940, at the age of 52, having suffered two strokes, putatively after reading a mistaken, and negative, obituary of himself in the Chicago Defender in January earlier that same year, which stated, in part, that Garvey died “broke, alone and unpopular”. Due to travel restrictions during World War II, his body was interred (no burial mentioned but preserved in a lead-lined coffin) within the lower crypt in St. Mary’s Catholic cemetery in London near Kensal Green Cemetery. Twenty years later, his body was removed from the shelves of the lower crypt and taken to Jamaica, where the government proclaimed him Jamaica’s first national hero and re-interred him at a shrine in the National Heroes Parkegro World entitled “African Fundamentalism”, where he wrote: “Our union must know no clime, boundary, or nationality… to let us hold together under all climes and in every country