Marcus Garvey's Courage

I've often wondered about Marcus Garvey's courage. In the face of the most implacable enemy, he maintained his poise. Two of my favorite quotes from Marcus Garvey are "Men who are in earnest are not afraid of consequences," and "If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life." Marcus Garvey believed in the strength of the individual and for Black women and men to be the creators of their destiny. In his essay, "Self Initiative," he explores the religious dimension of his seeming fearlessness.

Lesson 14

Self Initiative

Every man is on his own responsibility in life.

Nature never made anyone dually, but singly, therefore you have your sin{g}le responsibility.

The purpose of life is to live fully—hence the single life must be complete and in fact it is so with every man.  Hence, it is the duty of every man to fall back on himself for what he wants.

The use of all the faculties of man is necessary for his own protection.  He always has a reserve of self expression and self action upon which to fall to protect and defend himself.  He must, therefore, develop his faculties to do things thoroughly for himself and first rely upon himself in initiating all these things that may conduce to his personal well being.

Whatsoever he wants to do should first come from himself, as he s{h}ould best know what is best for himself.

Advice may be helpful, but only to the extent that you have reason and jud{g}ement enough to see the value of the advice, otherwise it may be harmful.  Very few persons, if any, who advi{s}e others—do so completely honestly, but generally with a motive for which the individual must pay the price, whatsoever that price may be.

The best individual policy, therefore, should be that the individual develop in himself or herself the courage to do things on his or her own account, counting always the cost in benefit or bad results.

The person who fails to be true to himself in taking the initiative to do things for himself will ultimately find out that he or she has been a “sucker” for others.  Always surround yourself with the talent of being able to do by yourself, so as not to be too dependent.  A person who has to depend on others, is not himself or herself, but the subject of others.  A subject or a medium is apt to break under the influence of the controlling factor, as for instance a hypnotist who has a controlling factor may so hypnotise his subject as to cause the subject to lose his or her mind.  Try, therefore, never to be the subject mentally of a factor, for a factor may destroy your opportunity of self-reliance and self-initiative.

Always try to help yourself, and only when you are completely satisfied that you have not the ability, the knowledge the developed character and strength to do for yourself, should you call anyone to help you, and when you ask others to help you over anything, be sure that they are your very, very, very good friends or relatives because if the thing you ask them to help you out of, or what may be {of} value to you, and would be of value to others, they may take the value for themselves, and all that you will get for falling in someone else to do something for you that you should do for yourself is disappointment, and the sad experience of how bad man is to rob his fellows of his rights.  Anything on earth that is of value to you is of interest to the other person, so if you have a good idea, try to develop it yourself and master it yourself, before you ask help, for you will have at least to share the results at the best with those who help you.


There is a God.

No man can say there is no God, because no man is like God.  Man is limited in his intelligence at the most and man knows how insufficient he is between life and death—that he is born without his knowledge and dies without his will or wish; when his birth and death must logically and naturally be controlled by somebody else.

It could not be man because man is always man whether he be a big man or small man.  So power that gives birth and causes death must be greater than man’s power.  Whatsoever that power is, it must be an absolute power.

Some men callit by different names but all mean the same thing and it is God.  When man, therefore, says there is no God, he is a fool for he is not as great as God.

Join no man in saying there is no God, and join no man in saying he is God for it is blasphemy.

Fear God, but love God.  If you love God, you need not fear God, for God is with you , and you are a part of him in your goodness.

You fear God only when you are conscious of being evil or wicked.

You love God and work with God whilst you are good.  There is nothing in this world that you should fear otherwise, for everything in the world is subject to you as man.  Never fear man but under{st}and man, so as to escape the wrath of man and master man.  Man is vicious, man is wicked, but you must know that he is.  By knowing that he is, you are able to handl{e} him without fearing him.

Meet the stare of man with your stare, never cringe before the stare of man, otherwise he masters you.

Develop courage enough, character enough, boldness enough, self-confidence enough, to look any man in the face and hold your ground; for the first time  you take your eyes off him because of his stare, he conquers you because you are unprepared.

Look him straight in the eye; keep him covered with your eye, and let him bow and walk off, not you.  This is the way man conquers the lion or a wild beast, by staring it in the eye; the moment he takes off his eye, the beast will spring upon him.

The daring look of man conquers man.  The self-confidence of man conquers man.  The stron{g} character of man conquers man.

The conqueror is the fellow with the boldest and longest stare.  He hypnotizes his victim and walks over him like a worm.

Never be a worm.  To be in this position, try never to be obligated, for if you are obligated to a man, you cannot stare him to obedience you will have to bow before him because he has a grip over you.

Try then to be free from all obligations to any man and thus be always yourself.  God is pleased when man lifts himself to his true position in his kingdom of earth and Heaven.

Look to God, ask him for strength, ask him for courage in righteousness, and you will be able to battle in the world of men.

Don’t ask him for wealth, but ask him for wisdom, as Solomon did, and he will open up to you the greater knowledge of goodness, if you are good in your approach to him through prayer for wisdom.

If you ask God for wisdom and understanding, you have everything else because with wisdom and understanding you will be able to take care of yourself.  Therefore, never pray to {G}od for particular things{,} for individual things.  He has already given all that is necessary for your existence in creation and has placed you as Lord and Master over them, then why worry him in further prayer and for these things?

It is a waste of time, it is annoying, it is disgusting to God, if God can be disgusted.  Seek ye first wisdom and understanding and all life will unfurl itself to you through God.

The mind and the soul are the receptacles of understanding and wisdom.  Clease them with protection and approach the source who giveth them, and you shall be eternally blest.

The Angels of Heaven are the good spirits from earth and the other planets who have passed through their probation of original life.

No man on earth is an angel.  The angels are spirits, not men.

From The Course of African Philosophy, ed . Tony Martin. Dover: Majority Press, 198


Exonerate Marcus Garvey

To be delivered to President Barack Obama


Popular posts from this blog

The Presidential Pardon of Marcus Garvey: A Recap

International Literacy Day: Free Ebooks