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Text Box: BY VALERIE DIXON  B.Ed. M.B.A
	Some time ago I was with a group of persons who were talking about Marcus Garvey.  Someone asked the question why is it that middle-class Black people just cannot love Marcus Garvey, even though we are all in agreement that he was an exceptional and great man.  
The organization that he founded in 1919, the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) has its address in a dilapidated building on Duke Street, almost forgotten by middle class black Jamaicans.  We thank the faithful few who have kept the name of his organization alive.  These people can be described as 'grass roots' people and they get little or no respect from the middle class intelligentsia who claim to be great scholars of Marcus Garvey.  A lady from the group, who was raised in ‘uppa Sin Andru’ (upper St. Andrew),  said she remembered as a child, hearing her grandmother and her friends sing a song about a man who had big thick lips and a big broad nose.  
It wasn't until she became an adult and heard about Marcus Garvey that she realized the song was about the ridiculing of Marcus Garvey.  Therein lies the answer as to why we just cannot love Marcus Mosiah Garvey.  He was too Black and even in the year 2004, many of us still cannot come to grips with being too Black and identifying with anything too Black and we hate the word 'Negro'.
	To lend support to what I am saying let me quote one of Marcus Garvey's contemporaries, Robert Bagnall an official of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) who in an abusive epithet described Marcus as follows "He is of unmixed stock, has protruding jaws and heavy jowls, with small bright pig-like eyes and a rather bull-dog face".  Marcus Garvey regarded people like Bagnall as hating the Negro blood of their foremothers and who endeavour to build up a society based on shades of colour and not on achievement and worth.
	What is it that makes some people's skin deeply coloured while some people have little or very little of this colouring?  It is melanin and if one is observant one will see that the people who live where the sun is hottest are usually very black in colour.  The melanin is supposed to protect them from the ultra-violet rays of the sun which can cause skin cancer.  Higher Intelligence or God or whatever one may wish to call the Creator never makes a mistake.  Yet the entire race of Black people have allowed mainly white males like Willie Lynch to brain-wash and dope them into thinking that the Creator made a mistake by creating Black people and that the colouring under their skin makes them inferior.  Marcus Garvey saw through the folly of this kind of thinking.
	Marcus Garvey had little formal education and as a result of this, he was utterly despised by the Negro intellectuals and the rising Black bourgeoisie both in Jamaica and North America.  The Negro elites have always shied away from mass movements and they were particularly repulsed by the UNIA which they regarded as a 'grass-root' mass movement, strictly for the poor and uneducated.  This man, with no formal training, was a threat to their striving to gain acceptance and assimilation into the dominant White culture.
	In remembering Marcus Mosiah Garvey, it must be admitted that he lacked business acumen and he also lacked honest and competent business associates.   His Black Star Line Enterprise was therefore doomed to failure.  Marcus Garvey raised substantial sums of money, but his associates, who were supposed to be well-educated, bought four worthless ships for his Company, a Company that was managed again by well-educated associates who were more cunning, than they were scrupulous.
	Garvey took a gamble and he lost.  He thought that the men around him were men with high levels of consciousness and that they also understood the plight of the Negro race.  He thought they were committed to rescuing the Black race from what the late Pandit Nehru once called the "horrible and infinite tragedy of Africa in the modern world."  One wonders what Nehru would call Africa today.
	 Marcus Garvey failed not because of himself, but because of the forces that worked externally to him, particularly in his business endeavours.  In spite of this, his stature as a great leader and teacher has grown steadily throughout the world and many have taken time to study this complex man objectively.  Garvey's "crime" was that he sought to instill in his followers, who were mainly the poor and oppressed Black people, a sense of pride in their race and patriotism to their African heritage.  This idea was propagated by other West Indian and North American Negroes, but it was the personality of Marcus Mosiah Garvey and his movement the UNIA that popularized the idea among the masses.
	Marcus Garvey must have been an extraordinary man.   His wife Amy Jacques Garvey said he was "one of those men and women who have emerged from their environment and so far out-distanced their contemporaries in thought and action, that in their day they were apt to be called mad, dangerous or fools."  She said also that "Garvey was obsessed by the conviction that Africans at home and abroad should be given an opportunity in life to develop themselves to the highest."  
	It is this strong faith and conviction that Garvey had that made him tower over his contemporaries.  Marcus Garvey is embodied in this quotation from Paul Twitchell, a Spiritual Leader and Teacher who said in his book - Letters To Gail Vol. 2 - that "Any man who sets out to make his idea accepted in a society, must have great and enduring faith in his own judgment and skills and a large amount of contempt for the opinions of his fellows."   It seems fair to say that most great men and women who set out to make their idea(s) accepted in society struggled long and suffered many failures and were ridiculed, ignored and persecuted before they could have their self-set goals achieved - many times these goals were never achieved in their life-time.
	Often times we see that the men of mental activity or the so-called intelligentsia, are generally those who will go along with the social customs and accept things as they are and only try to improve their personal positions within the society.  But we remember Garvey as a man of spiritual activity who touched truth and was full of ideas on how to improve the lives of Black people both at home and abroad.  It is said that "Ideas are the most powerful weapons of all and truth causes conflict to storm in the heart of man, tearing him in every which direction."  (Paul Twitchell - Letters to Gail Vol. 2)
	From a political stand-point, Marcus Garvey wrote down all his ideas for all to read in his 1929 Manifesto.  Unfortunately, the middle class would have none of it.  He wrote about protection of native labour, land reform, encouragement of native industries, the compulsory improvement of urban areas from which large profits are made by Trusts, corporations and companies, a law to develop crown lands into agricultural lands and other uses.  He advocated for reforms dealing with education and the country's social and cultural development.  In his campaign he gave concrete examples of and showed that he was against the class system which keeps the poor man down; and the poor are mostly the Black people.  This so-called uneducated man beat the so-called educated middle class to the punch.  Marcus had put these ideas in writing long before the middle-class could even understand what Marcus had envisioned for the Black race.  Maybe this is the real reason why they refused to support him.  In a book edited by Rupert Lewis and Maureen Warner-Lewis - Garvey, Africa, Europe, the Americas; it states that the defeat of Garvey in the January 1930 election to the Legislative Council was due firstly to the fact that the masses had no vote and that secondly the big landowners, merchants and the white colonial officials had won the support of the Black small proprietor middle class, that is- teachers, policemen, clergymen, shop and store-keepers, farmers and produce dealers.  One of them was a teacher D. T. Wint who is reported as saying that "Garvey said the labouring men should get four (4) shillings (about 80 cents now) and work eight hours a day.  Could the small people who had to employ labour send such an impossible man to the Council?  If Garvey wants to go to Africa, let him go, but it is an insult to every Jamaican to tell him he should go back to African savagery - to darkest Africa - Garvey's Mecca."  Many people right now could well do with some slaves because they can't afford to pay even minimum wage to the labour they employ, given the state of the Jamaican economy today.  For argument sake who is a Jamaican?  God forbid if the Tainos (Arawaks) were to return to Jamaica and 'run us from their land'.  We would be just like the Palestinians - without a home or state.
	It is people like Mr. Wint who can't support Garvey's UNIA, because they can't accept their African heritage and erroneously think that the UNIA is for the uneducated masses and that Mr. Garvey is too much of a 'negro', so they would rather lend their support to the ruling class and hope to get an invitation to their soirees and clubs.  It is also from this so-called educated middle-class that our political leaders emerge.  One wonders in remembering Marcus Garvey if he could also foretell the future, because this is what he had to say in a speech he made cira 1929 about Negro Leadership and what it means.  "I would not exchange two five-cent cigars - even though not a smoker- for all the coloured or Negro political leaders, or rather mis-leaders of our time.  The fraternity is heartless, crafty and corrupt.  They exist for themselves only and give no honest thought to the future, or the condition of the people, except to exploit the said condition to their political benefit.  The leaders of the race are visionless and selfish.  They think of none but themselves."-  Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, 2nd Edition.   Now we understand why 'dem jus cyaan love Marcus Garvey.'  Our politicians worship at the feet of our crafty, cunning, trickster folk-hero Anancy and they try to outdo him every chance they get.
	 Marcus Garvey was not a university graduate, but he was a mover and shaker of men.  Writing in 1930, James Weldon Johnson describing Garvey said "He had energy and daring and the Napoleonic personality, the personality that draws masses of followers.  He stirred the imagination of the Negro masses as no Negro ever had.  He raised more money in a few years than any other Negro organization had ever dreamed of.  He had power and great possibilities within his grasp."   Garvey was the type of man that hardly meets with approval from an educated middle class, especially a class preoccupied with accumulating matter by being more enterprising, or by being more ruthless, or by using trickery and deceit.  This class thinks they are safe and secure, so they hate anything that seems like a threat to this false sense of security.  They cannot bear to think of the masses becoming educated, because they know that "knowledge in the hands of the public is a threat to those in power".  Is it coincidence that our educational system is in such a shambles?
	Marcus Garvey tried to educate us to the fact that regardless of whether you are of mixed blood and brown or not mixed and black, we are all Negroes.  If the brown man or woman from uppa Sin Andru did a DNA test, it would reveal that Ashanti or some other African tribe's blood is part of his/her blood's composition, mixed with other ethnic blood types.  The boy cleaning windshields at the stop-light just happens to have much more Ashanti or some other African tribe's blood and less of other ethnic blood types.  So our African foremothers blood types are something that 95% of Jamaicans have in common no matter how brown or even white we may look.  Africa is common to all of us, but Willie Lynch, as mentioned earlier and other pale males have capitalized on our differences and use our varying amounts of melanin to always divide and rule us.  As a result of this,  as colonized people, we are always in a state of flux, always in conflict and cannot settle and become united.  So if the Diaspora and Africans do not unite and come together, in another 100 years historians and writers will tell us that Black people once lived in Africa and the Middle East, just as the North American Indian once inhabited and had a place in his homeland - America.
	If this is not to happen, then we must understand what Marcus Garvey was all about.  This great man believed that for the Negro to have respect, he must have power in education, science, industry and commerce, politics and higher government.  Marcus Garvey was speaking to every one of us, brown skinned Negroes, black skinned Negroes and nearly-white skinned Negroes when he said "Up ye mighty race you can accomplish what you will"  Loving him, hating him or being indifferent towards him cannot diminish the greatness of this man.  Many educated black men and brown men, some of whom were arch-enemies of Marcus Garvey have disappeared from the historical radar screen.  We cannot recall their names in a hurry, but the name of Marcus Mosiah Garvey from St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, may just live on forever.  
Happy Birthday Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
“Remembering Marcus Mosiah Garvey” was first published in July 2004.
  Contact: valeriecdixon@ubol.com
Text Box: REMEMBERING MARCUS MOSIAH GARVEY

Valerie Dixon

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Last up-dated 10 November 2011

 

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1807-2007

 

Britain Commemorates  the Bicentenary

 of  The Slave Trade Abolition  Act 1807.

 

One of the Black Community’s Contributions -

 

“Cries of Our Kidnapped  Ancestors”

 

 

 

________________

Beliefs and Commentaries

 

“All faith is FALSE, all faith is TRUE.

TRUTH is the shattered mirrors strewn In myriad bits; while each BELIEVES

His LITTLE BIT the whole to own.”

 

From “The Kasidah of Hji Abu el-Yezdi”, as translated by Sir Richard F. Burton

 

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(Legends in their fields)          

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Music & Entertainment

Youth & the Survival Game in Britain (YSGB)

Short Story &   Writers’ Forum

What is Pan-Africanism

Editorial

Resident and Guest Correspondents

 

______________

1807-2007

 

Britain Commemorates  the Bicentenary

 of  The Slave Trade Abolition  Act 1807.

 

One of the Black Community’s Contributions -

 

“Cries of Our Kidnapped Afrikan Ancestors”

 

 

 

________________

Beliefs and Commentaries

 

“All faith is FALSE, all faith is TRUE.

TRUTH is the shattered mirrors strewn In myriad bits; while each BELIEVES

His LITTLE BIT the whole to own.”

 

From “The Kasidah of Hji Abu el-Yezdi”, as translated by Sir Richard F. Burton