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Post-Civil war America exercised the segregation of Whites and Blacks. Originally, the aim of this division was to keep everything separate but equal. By the late 1800’s into the 1900’s, the “separate but equal” motive adapted into the superiority of Whites, leaving much racial tension and limitation for the freed slaves and their ancestors. Marcus Garvey, like many social activists, had many goals to either remove this separation, or to completely relocate America’s blacks to a new place of their own.
Marcus Garvey’s ideas of black nationalism and fighting oppression helped shape the identity of African Americans in the United States during the 1920’s. Marcus Garvey was born on August 17, 1887 in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. He began his career as a magazine editor by traveling and residing in Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, and London. He eventually began studying Law and Philosophy at Birkbeck College in London.
While living in London, he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA), which was dedicated to black racial pride, economic self-sufficiency, and the formation of an independent black nation in Africa.
He also became the editor of Negro World, a magazine dedicated to black nationalism, including poetry and articles about African pride and ancestry. In June 1919, Garvey founded the Black Star Line of Delaware, a shipping line for the transportation of goods and to later aid his campaign for his “Back to Africa” movement.
After a year of success, the shipping line went bankrupt. His immediate business failure led him to being accused of mail fraud.
Investigator Edwin P. Kilroe attempted to arrest Garvey of his fraud and UNIA associations, although he had not found enough evidence to do so. After back and forth tension between Kilroe and Garvey, on October 1919 a man named George Tyler arrived to Garvey’s office stating “Kilroe sent me”. Tyler then proceeded to shoot him 4 times with a .
38-caliber revolver. Garvey was then wounded in the right leg and scalp. On August 1, 1920, Garvey proposed his Liberia Program to 25,000 people. This program was to strive for the building of colleges, industry, and railroads to create a permanent homeland for the African Americans in Liberia, Africa. In June 1923, Garvey was finally convicted of mail fraud and sentenced to five years in prison. In 1927 he was released by President Coolige, but deported back to Jamaica.
Garvey finished out his years in London, creating the Edelweiss Amusement Company which helped exposed talented but financially unstable musicians and artists. He continued to expose his ideas to future UNIA leaders by setting up an African philosophy school in Toronto. In 1940, Garvey had a stroke, but survived until he read a false obituary of himself stating he had died “broke, alone, and unpopular”, thus leading to his fatal second stroke. Marcus Garvey died on June 10, 1940.
Garvey’s main ideas were closely distinguished with the Pan-African movement in England, where he lived most of his life. His goals were “to unify people of color against imperialism all over the world” (McKissack 79) Works Cited McKissack, Patricia and Frederick. W. E. B Dubois. New York: Franklin Watt, 1990. “Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)”. Encyclop? dia Britannica. Encyclop? dia Britannica Online. Encyclop? dia Britannica Inc. , 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2013 .
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