From: C R Spinner <>
Newsgroups: medlux.newusers,soc.culture.african,soc.culture.african.american,soc.culture.south-africa
Subject: Garvey: Our Heroes Live On [long]
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 11:43:36 -0700
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Marcus Garvey

The Marcus Garvey Library, [19 June 2003]

(Some controversial aspects of Garvey’s work have been raised in the NGs. This article presents some of the challenges that he faced. Many in Diaspora will find much to think about. For a brief biography, see

The work and philosophy of The Right Excellent Dr. Marcus Mosiah Garvey represents many things to many people. Whatever people may think of him or his efforts for the race, Dr. Garvey had: One God,One Aim,One Destinyfor his life. That aim was the Redemption of Africa. To that he subsumed everything, even his personal life.

The work and philosophy of Dr. Garvey is therefore a paradigm for the intentions he held with respect to Africa and the people that were dispersed from its’ shores. Some left independently others were brutally removed for economic gain and exploitation.

Within the paradigm Dr. Garvey furthered; for the continuum of his work and the future of the race; are the elements of redemption and uplift of his race. In order to make this a living reality Dr. Garvey established the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (ANIA-ACL) in 1914 in Jamaica.

Through the UNIA-ACL Dr. Garvey conveyed the view, like other African Leaders and organizations before him, that until Africa is free and redeemed, not only in name but dignity, no one would be free, Black or White. Dr. Garvey held the belief of the Brotherhood of Man. Through this precept he attempted to convey that whatever ones’ race we are all bound together by the Creator which is Spirit. The Creator has purpose. That purpose does not include being made a slave or subjugated for any circumstances.

The Right Excellent Dr. Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born in Jamaica at St. Anns Bay located on the North Coast of the Island on August 17, 1887. He deceased on June 10, 1940 in Fulham London, England. Many see him as a prophet. Rastafarians liken him to John the Baptist because he conveyed through his utterances and example the sacredness of maintaining the continuity and nationhood of the vast Continent and its people wherever they are on the globe.

Circumstances surrounding his passing have never been investigated or made public hence leaving an air of mystery and concern about the details of his decease.

Racial violence is not new to Britain. One has only to examine the period during World War I and the attacks in British seaport towns on Black servicemen and seamen. A representative was sent to Europe, by the US President, from the Tuskegee Institute to investigate complaints from Black Servicemen regarding racial bias from both the British and American military.

In addition the international eugenics movement had an impact on the military through its’ emphasis on Racial Hygiene. This encouraged racial separation and I.Q. testing by the US military. The influence of eugenics in the military during WWI was based on the faulty premise of the innate inferiority of Blacks and the supposed superiority of Whites. The basis of this was the inappropriate use of the science of ethnology and other adverse propaganda.

The military of both countries regulated Black servicemen to degrading and demeaning work on grounds of race. Men directly from the African Continent were termed Natives and; based on British Constitutional law and policy; excluded from access to equal opportunities with white British servicemen. African Americans were excluded from access to equal opportunities based on Jim Crow laws in the United States. Their status was simply that of niggers serving in the US military.

Lack of access to hospitals and medical attention led to a disproportionate number of deaths amongst Black servicemen. Those Blacks who became officers were noncommissioned and responsible only for Black Servicemen. Initially; when they were finally allowed to enter the war effort; Black Nurses could only provide medical care to Black servicemen.

The Garvey Movement, particularly the Universal African Black Cross Nurses, contributed to the health and social care of Black servicemen returning from World War I. On returning, to the US, African American servicemen were lynched and degraded North and South by many whites because of their race.  

Dr. Marcus Garvey was influenced from the onset in his early humanitarian work in Jamaica by the efforts of Dr. Robert Love. Love was born in 1835 in Nassau the Bahamas and deceased in 1914; the same year that Marcus Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation Association and African Communities Imperial League. The organization came to be known popularly as the Universal Negro Improvement Association or UNIA.

Dr. Love was a keen and active supporter of the dignity and uplift of Black women, particularly young Black girls. He held the view that a race could progress no further than the dignity and esteem of their women and girls. When planted the seeds of dignity and self-esteem must be supported, as well as cultivated, in order to develop and flow within the woman and young girl.

At given opportunities this process, hopefully, will extend and be shared with family and others; including the society and culture that nurtured the growth; ultimately to be passed from generation to generation and age to age thus forming a timeless: foundation; beauty and integrity for the: unborn; girls and women of the race.

Both Dr Love and Dr. Garvey realized that the process of development and progress for the race had been intentionally hampered and fragmented to serve degrading interests of an alien race and those they selected to act as their buffers for centuries.

Owing to this many people from Africa and throughout the global Diaspora are mere echoes of an alien culture often oblivious to the material and spiritual distortions and destruction that have taken place for them their people and the communities for which they should be more responsible.

The writings and work of Dr. Love obviously had an impact on Garvey because he gave consideration while establishing the Garvey Movement to the views of women and their placement in key positions of the organization. Mrs. Garvey worked closely with white females such as Sylvia Pankhurst (1882-1960) to build the groundwork for recognition and independence as well as liberation of modern western women.

This fact is rarely considered in writings that examine modern female liberation. It was while living in Jamaica that Dr. Love saw the fruits of his work as a physician; writer; editor; journalist and political reformer until his death in Jamaica in 1914.

Love wrote for the Jamaica Advocate (1894-1905). As a paper it expressed views that were critical of colonial governments. In this respect the writings of Love in The Advocate became a mirror for the Negro WorldNews paper, which Dr. Garvey founded. The Negro World was considered by the United States and European governments to be seditious material and banned in colonial countries in Africa and elsewhere.

Through the efforts of Dr. Love, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, as a young man in Jamaica, became more aware of many of the outstanding Africans of the day and the past. Garvey read the writings of Dr. Love and would have paid close attention to his remarks about colonialism and the partition of Africa; the achievements of John Bruce; Edward Blyden; Sylvester-Williams; Dubois; Dr. Booker T. Washington and Tuskegee; in addition to the efforts of the (Black) Baptist Church; African Methodist Episcopal Church in Africa and elsewhere.

Dr. Love also examined through his writings such social issues as land reform in Jamaica and Pan Africanism. These ideas obviously stirred Marcus Garvey to devote his life and work towards building a spiritual awareness about self-esteem as well as the implications of race and the uplift of his people.

The activities of Dr. Love and others, in concert with Dr Garvey’s training as a printer coupled with his exceptionally fine family background; formed a solid foundation for Garvey’s future achievements. Through these associations and his travels, Dr. Garvey was preparing for the mantle of leadership and statesmanship. In addition he became armed with a growing independent insight into the needs of Africans on a global basis.

The founding of the UNIA-ACL and its subsequent work was a natural progression given the background of Dr. Garvey and his critical insight into colonialism and so-called white superiority.

The organization was involved in extensive development and improvement of health and social care activities. This emerged, out of necessity, from the patterns of racial exclusion and Jim Crowism that were fundamental to colonial relationships in all European countries and the Americas.

During the historic August 1stto 31st1920 Convention in Harlem New York the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League ratified in Convention The Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World.

At the same time the Office of the Surgeon General was approved the Director of the Surgeon Generals Office was also appointed. He was Dr. D.D. Lewis M.D, a Nigerian, and head of the Montreal Division of the UNIA. The Office of the Surgeon General cooperated with work in youth, health prevention, hygiene, counseling (men coming from war; lynching), maternity services, as well as contagious disease control (TB and sexually transmitted disease).

Mr and Mrs. Garvey and members of the UNIA, frequently in cooperation with those independent of the UNIA worked diligently to facilitate the use of black nurses, particularly following World War I and II in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Surgeon General’s Office of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League held overall responsibility for the work of the Universal African Black Cross Nurses and other health professionals. The President of the Universal African Black Cross Nurses was the Hon. Sarah Branch. They were called Black Cross Nurses because of the way the caps they wore; as part of their uniforms; were designed. In the centre of the cap was a Black Cross.

This insignia was adopted because these nurses were denied admission to the Red Cross Nurses (voluntary sector); training in hospitals; schools and other institutions that trained nurses - because they were delegated for white nursing students only. This was based on racial exclusion and eugenics.

When black people worked in hospitals they were regulated to the most menial and demeaning tasks. This applied, particularly, to the care of white patients.

All Africans in the health professions in the Americas and Africa cared for black patients in segregated facilities, often of an inferior standard, such as a back porch or cupboard. African patients in the Americas and on the Continent of Africa were regulated to inappropriate sections of health facilities and hospitals such as contagious disease wards or areas that were not compatible to health improvement, irrespective of the condition or treatment of the patient.

As a rule white nurses and doctors did not care for African patients. Racial bias and separation as well as the eugenic movement made this a global policy prior to and during World Wars I and II and in some parts of the United States until the 70’s.

The Universal African Black Cross Nurses are being used as a reference for examining the contributions of the Garvey Movement to the global health and social care of Africans. This is because the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League was the largest organised mass movement ever to address and seek remedies to the collective challenges confronting the African Continent and the African Diaspora.

The Challenges

Marcus Garvey’s humanitarian work, lead to the founding of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League in 1914 in Jamaica. It became popularly known as the U.N.I.A.

Many people termed the U.N.I.A. the ’back to Africa movement’. This reference did not reflect the detailed structure of the programme the U.N.I.A. developed for those who wished to immigrate to or visit Africa.

Although Dr Garvey vigorously encouraged the African Diaspora to return to Africa this advice was given within the context of a sustainable programme implemented by trained members of the U.N.I.A. throughout the organisation. U.N.I.A. officers, at the highest level, had travelled to Africa with detailed plans to study how an immigration programme would best be implemented in Africa. Sanitation requirements, post office; schools; hospital; and other facilities systematically developed, within a town planning structure, were designed. Men and women with a range of skills were required to be pioneers. There was, in the case of Liberia, extensive communication with the government and at one time co-operation. Nevertheless Dr. Garvey realised that many black people would not be suitable for or wish to return to Africa.

Throughout his service to the race Dr Garvey actively warned his people to, individually and collectively, reappraise their status in spiritual and world affairs. It was no longer possible, Dr Garvey believed, to blame the ‘white man’ or anyone else for failings or doubts. The time had come for the race to develop as free people not as slaves.

Racial dignity was not to be based on the views or images shaped by others. History had shown this was folly and destructive to shaping self-worth as well as redemption of the African continent.

The Right Excellent Dr Marcus Mosiah Garvey said:— Some of us believe that this slave race of ours will live in the United States of America and in the future again become law makers for the white race (our slave masters of sixty years ago). Nothing of the kind has happened in all human history.

There is not one instance where a slave race living in the same country (within the same bounds as the race of masters that enslaved them and being in numbers less than the race of masters) has ever ruled and governed the masters. It has never been so in history, and it will never be so in the future. The hidden spirit of America is determined that it shall never be caring not what hopes and promises we get.

But history has recorded where a race of slaves through education, through progress, has risen to the heights where they ruled and dominated those who once enslaved them, but that race of slaves has always had to betake itself to their habitats (usually their own native land) and there, apart from those who once enslaved them, developed a power of their own, a strength of their own, and in the higher development of that strength, and that power, they, like others, have made conquests, and the conquests have sometimes enabled them to enslave those who once enslaved them.

So for us to encourage the idea that one day Negroes will rise to the highest in the administration of this white government, is only encouraging a vain hope.

The only wise thing for us as ambitious Negroes to do, is to organize the world over, and build up for the race a mighty nation of our own in Africa. And this race of ours that cannot get recognition and respect in the country where we were slaves, by using our won ability, power and genius would develop for ourselves in another country in our habitat a nation of our own, and be able to send back from that country,-from that native habitat-to the country where we were once enslaved, representatives of our own race, that would get as much respect as any other ambassadors from any other race or nation.

God Almighty created earth and every one of us for a place in the world, and for the least of us to think that we were created only to be what we are and not what we can make ourselves, is to impute an improper motive to the Creator for creating us.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of the Journal of Negro History, wrote in the (1940), edition of the Journal.

Marcus Garvey died in London-he was educated and learned to think seriously of the social repression from which his people suffered there and their untoward status throughout the world. He came to the United States-and began his ’Back to Africa Movement’ for the redemption of the race by transplantation to the land of its’ Fathers’To get rid of the evils confronting the Black people in the western hemisphere.

Whatever may be said about Garvey’s mistakes he cannot be recorded in history as a fanatic or a fool. His claim to be recorded in history lies in the fact that he attracted a larger following than any Negro who has been developed in modern time. Negroes here and there have been hailed as leaders, the press has given them great praise, and their friends have sung of their virtues in high tone; but a thorough analysis of the famous Negro Leaders will disclose the fact that they owed their prominence mainly to white men who considered such spokesmen as those persons through whom they could work to keep the Negro in his place. . .