Marcus Garvey : Faith (Imani)


The symbol at the top of the page is the Kwanzaa symbol Imani or faith: “To believe with all our hearts in our parents, our teachers, our leaders, our people and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.”

But what is our struggle? Seventy seven years ago, Marcus Garvey defined the struggle: “We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.”

The story of Africans in the Americas began in slavery. But Marcus knew Africans had a history that began in Ethiopia, the “cradle of humanity,” and their knowledge of the arts and sciences spread through Kemet (modern Egypt), which subsequently influenced every other civilization including the Greek and Roman empires. 

Marcus had also studied the history of the empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay, and read about the kingdoms of Kongo and Ndongo in Central and Southcentral Africa, so was able to say, “Be as proud of your race today as our fathers were in the days of yore. We have a beautiful history, and we shall create another in the future that will astonish the world.”

The “victory of our struggle” is the redemption of Black people from the “mental slavery” that causes many think that they are irredeemable and to give up on their dreams. But Marcus had faith in the redemption of our race. 

Redemption means "to lift up" something that you cherish or value. It also involves faith in yourself and your community. Redemption doesn’t have to be on the large scale; it can be in the small things that we do to lift up ourselves and the people whom we love. 

We just have to have faith that it can be done. As Marcus said in The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, “Rise up, you mighty race! Accomplish what you will."

Writing Exercise

How do you show faith in yourself, your family, or community?

Write a paragraph about how you plan to uplift yourself, family, community or nation.

Write a paragraph about how you show faith in yourself, your family or community.

Write an essay about how faith and redemption play a part in your life.



The Coalition for the Exoneration of Marcus Garvey is petitioning Senator Bill Nelson, Representative Frederica Wilson, and the Congress of the United States of America for the exoneration of Marcus Garvey:

Thank you for your support.


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