August 17, 1887–The spirit formerly known as Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born in Jamaica. Early in his life, he emigrated to the United States and became one of the greatest black leaders in history. Through his organization, the Universal Negro Improvement Association, Garvey instilled a philosophy which sought to unite all Africans across the globe. His ideals bore his name, Garveyism, but it is also referred to as Pan-Africanism.
In the documentary, A Great and Mighty Walk, Dr. John Henrik Clarke posited that Marcus Garvey should be re-examined and more thoroughly analyzed. I couldn’t agree more. Garvey could be considered a prophet of sorts because much of his philosophical thoughts were seriously ahead of its time. Some 122 years after his birth, the African Diaspora is still not unified with Africa struggling to regain control and rebuild after centuries of colonialism. Here in the U.S., truthfully speaking, African Americans are still largely engaged in a ‘catch up’ phenomenon that is being threatened by this current economic turbulence. To that end, much of what Garvey wanted for Black people has not been fully realized. Therefore, revisiting his ideals and concepts could perhaps light the way to a new understanding of how we are to proceed as a people in the Obama era.
For the record, Garvey supported the notion of Black women being involved in the movement, having a branch of the UNIA that was specifically designed for women. I highly recommend locating a copy of the documentary, Look for Me in the Whirlwind, which is an in-depth look at the life and work of Marcus Garvey. He died in 1940 at the age of 53.