This book report seeks to examine the book Marcus Garvey by Rupert Lewis. This book is a biography of the life of Marcus Garvey.
Rupert Lewis is the author of the book “Marcus Garvey” he was born in Jamaica. He has been a public educator on Marcus Garvey and the Garvey movement for fifty years and the author of Marcus Garvey. Professor Lewis has served as a member of the council of the institute of Jamaica and as Chairman of the African-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica and as Chairman of the ‘Friends of Liberty Hall – The Legacy of Marcus Garvey,” comprising a multimedia museum library, an outreach project in downtown Kingston. He is a member of the Jamaica Reparations Commissions appointed by the Government of Jamaica which began work in May 2009
. A political scientist who has published extensively on Marcus Garvey’s activities in Jamaica and the Caribbean region. He has also authored research about the Caribbean activist-intellectual, Walter Rodney. Professor Lewis has served as member of the Council of the Institute of Jamaica and as Chairman of the African-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica and Jamaica Memory Bank.
Marcus Garvey Early Years
Marcus Garvey was born on the 17 August 1887 in St Ann’s Bay a northern seaport town of Jamaica to Sarah Jane Richards and Marcus Garvey Senior. His father was an artisan and his mother was a housekeeper and cook in middle class homes. His parents got married two years after his birth. Garvey’s father was an avid reader and collector of books and was also good at masonary. He was influential in his community and used the articles he collected from the newspapers for public readings to make listeners aware of the importance of political occurences While Sarah Jane is said to be a compassionate person. Due to economic hardship of Garvey’s family, he left school at age fourteen and learned the printing and newspaper business. He was interesting in the world affairs, his boyhood friend from St Ann’s Bay Issac Rose, reported, “all the time when I meet him he wore jacket and every time, his two pockets full of paper reading and telling us things that happened all over the world” CITATION Rup18 l 1033 (Lewis). However he became interested in politics and soon got involved in projects aimed at helping those on the bottom of society. Garvey’s hobbies were organizing concerts, staging elocution contest and debates, these enriched his skills and practice of journalism. Also among the sports he loved boxing and cricket.
In 1910, Garvey had made a name for himself in Jamaica as an accomplished printer, writer and politician. Garvey joined The National Club, the first organisation in Jamaica which introduced anti-colonial thinking into Jamaica. The inequality that Marcus Garvey encountered in the world outside of lower school in Jamaica was full of inequality and hatred for the black man. Garvey decided to leave Jamaica to see if blacks were treated the same way as in other countries. He spent the next two years travelling around Central America experiencing the black conditions in several countries. The experience was the same as he found in Jamaica, so he travelled to England to see if he found the same. In England , Garvey was pleasantly surprised. The blacks in England were not segregated, like in the west. However, he studied a lot on his own, visiting museums and following black leaders in England. Many of his ideas were developed during his stay in England. Garvey was identified closely with the Pan-African movement in England. The main purpose of the movement was ” to unify people of color against imperialism all over the world”.
Early Days and Travels
In 1910 Marcus Garvey embarked on a journey through Central America, a journey that completely changed him from a typical person concerned with the less fortunates wellbeing, to someone disposed to free the black race from subjugation. During his travels, he visited Panama, Costa Rica, and Ecuador and edited for many fundamentalist newspapers. Soon after returning to Jamaica for a short while Garvey advanced to England, where exposure to African nationalist stoked in him a great interest in Africa as well as in black history. In every nation he frequented, Garvey noticed that the condition of the black man was always lower in status or quality than another or other.
Garvey had been tantalized by Booker T Washington’s “Up from Slavery” writings. Washington believed that African Americans needed to improve themselves first, showing whites in America that they deserve equal rights. He had also worked with Duse Mohamed Ali, and initiated his writing for Ali’s magazines where he was later introduced to other black activist. In 1914, upon departing England and returning to Jamaica, Garvey assembled the Universal Negro Improvement Association and the African Communities league (UNIA-ACL). Their moral was “One God, One Aim, One Destiny”. These associations became the nucleus for Garvey’s efforts throughout his life. The UNIA planned to establish educational and industrial colleges for Jamaica blacks, a reflection Booker T. Washington’s guiding influence on Garvey’s thought and career.
Initially he kept very much in line with Washington by encouraging his fellow Jamaicans of Africa decent to work hard, demonstrate good morals and a strong character. Garvey did not make much headway in Jamaica and decided to visit America in order to meet Booker T Washington and learn more about the situation of African Americans. By the time Garvey arrived in America in 1916, Washington had died, but Garvey travel around the country and observed African Americans and their struggle for equal rights. Garvey’s friendship with Amy Ashwood had begun in Kingston in 1914. They both were interested in public affairs and took part in debates. Ashwood left for Panama with her parents but maintain contact with Garvey. She then travelled to New York and became his secretary, a director of the Black Star Line and also an officer of the UNIA. Garvey’s first marriage was to Amy Ashwood which ended in 1922, then later that year he married Amy Jacques, who was also active in social causes. The couple had two sons together, Marcus Mosiah Garvey III and Julius Winston Garvey.
African Americans were moving from in large numbers out of the rural south and into the urban areas in of both north and south. Racism also functioned to distort social relationships. As a child Garvey as a playmate a little white girl who eventually her parents told that she could not continue their childhood friendship. Colour did not matter to Garvey because he always thought he was better than them, they looked up to him. He had no regrets, his socilalization had made him confident, dominant and had strong leadership qualities. Between 1860 and 1920 many Barbadians migrated largely to the Americas. Many Caribbean people including a large number of Barbadians went to build the Panama Canal. Also thousand of West Indian workers went to work for the banana industry in Costa Rica. There was also migration in the United States as many African Americans sought to escape the racist conditions of the American South.
On March 1916 Garvey left Kingston for New York City and embarked on a year long speaking tour of the United States. He visited Tuskegee and paid respect to the dead hero, Booker Washington, In May he completed his speaking tour of thirty-eight states. Months in New York were rough, Garvey got dizzy and fell off soapboxes because of hunger. He caught colds because his shoe soles had holes in them, the circumstances worsened his asthmatic condition. However he persisted all this and built up his audience. The New York branch of the UNIA grew largely by August 1919. Transformation took place for Garvey over the years. His confidence and sense multiplied way beyond his 1914 vision. He planned to return to Jamaica after instructing people of the aims and objectives of the UNIA. Faced with the opposition of Harlem’s established black leadership, who attempted to turn the movement into a political club, he resigned as president and decided to remain in Harlem, and began a campaign to recruit members. Garvey purchased a large auditorium in Harlem, Liberty Hall, for UNIA meetings, and Liberty Halls were also opened by other UNIA branches. Amy Jacques-Garvey described the multiple functions of these halls, designed to serve the needs of the people CITATION Bla68 l 1033 (Black Leadership in America).
The History of Rastafarianism and its Transition to Haile Salasie”A people without the knowledge of their past, history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. Liberate the minds of men and ultimately you will liberate the bodies of men”.
These words spoken by the late Marcus Garvey, help shaped the Rastafarian religion. This religion is no stranger to the Caribbean as it was conceived in the slums of Kingston Jamaica, during a period of depression, poverty, racism and class discrimination. The conception of this religion occurred sometime between the 1920s and 1930s with the teachings of Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), a black Jamaican who led a “Back to Africa” movement. This movement taught that Africans were the true Israelites, and had been exiled to Jamaica and other parts of the world as punishment. Garvey encouraged pride in being black and worked to reverse the mindset of inferiority that plagued the minds of black people after centuries of enslavement. However, this belief took a swing on November 2 1930, when Ras Tafari Makonnen was crowned emperor of Ethiopia. Makonnen ruled for 44 years and at his coronation acquired the name Haile Selassie which meant, “Might of the Trinity”. Followers of Garvey’s teachings believed that Selassie was the messiah that had been predicted and that therefore his coronation indicated the divine punishment was completed and the return to Africa would begin. It was to this end that the Rastafarianism movement died, and the Haile Selassie movement was birthed.
Death & Accomplishments
Marcus Garvey left Jamaica in 1935 for England, there he set up the headquarters of the UNIA. He was proposing the need for black colonial representation in the imperial legislation. In Jamaica much of Garvey’s activity can be understood as a contribution to the democratic movement in the West Indies. As a child growing Garvey was a Methodist and later he became a catholic. His belief in God was strong and it had meaning in his speeches and sermons (lewis 80).
Garvey saw the African revolution as dependent on another European war, but there was no European revolution there was another European war, after which anti-colonial movement in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. In one of Garvey’s speeches he quoted Bob Marley ” we are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind”.
Garvey left Jamaica in 1935 due to a number of disturbances occurring in the country (Lewis 86). On returning from Canada Garvey’s boat stopped at several eastern Caribbean ports. He was allowed entry into Trinidad but was not permitted to speak because his speeches may add to the disputes. His programmes continued and he mostly was looking to the working class for support. Garvey viewed the movement of labour in the 1930s positively, that he wrote ” we feel that Jamaica and not only Jamaica, the entire British West Indies, will benefit from the recent strikes in Jamaica”.
Garvey had two sons living in Jamaica that he remained in contact with. He had opened an account for them in the case that something happened to him. Garvey had two strokes after the second one he was unable to write and his secretary had to do this for him. He was handicapped and unable to resume a normal life. Garvey died on the 10th June 1940, his movements were an historical praxis of anti-imperialist struggle geared towards the freedom of a race.
Marcus Garvey grew up in poverty, surrounded by the struggle of blacks to gain political, economic, and social equality. He devoted his life’s work to end of these struggles. He developed a set of beliefs that influence many people and encouraged many blacks to put forth extra effort to get ahead. Marcus Garvey and the UNIA is the largest African American movement to date.