June 8, 2011

Marcus Garvey's Influence

Even as I write this someone in the world is singing along with the lyrics from "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley: "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery," without being aware that they are the words from a speech given by Marcus Garvey in Nova Scotia  during October 1937 and published in his Black Man magazine:

We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind ...

The words of Marcus Garvey have influenced nearly every prominent reggae songwriter, including Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, The Mighty Diamonds, Steel Pulse, Garnett Silk, Lucky Dube, and Culture. To go back even further, Marcus Garvey is regarded as a prophet of Rastafari and a pillar of the Pan-African movement. Marcus Garvey Life and Lessons aptly describes Garvey's influence in the early twenties:
Garveyism as an ideological movement began in black Harlem's thirty or so square blocks in the sping of 1918, and then burgeoned throughout the black world--nearly a thousand UNIA divisions were formed, and tens of thousands of members enrolled within the brief sapn of seven years. the reign of the Garvey movement, as Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Sr., wrote "awakened a race consciuosness that made Harlem felt around the world."  (xv)
 In fact, it was Marcus Garvey's UNIA that designed the Pan-African flag, which has become a part of our visual vocabulary of Pan-Africanism. Whenever you see the red, black, and green or you see the Pan-African flag, realize that it is visible proof of Marcus Garvey's influence.

Garvey's ideas, whether accepted or rejected, have played an important role in shaping our modern world. Here is a partial list of some of the writers, leaders, and artists who have been influenced by Marcus Garvey:

Kwame Nkrumah
Nelson Mandela
Julius Nyerere
Alhaji Ahmed Sekou Toure
Jomo Kenyatta
M. L. T. De Mena 
Paul Robeson
Malcolm X
Steve Biko
Patrice Lumumba
Frantz Fanon

With even a cursory examination of the list, it could be said (without being accused of hyperbole) that without Marcus Garvey and his contributions, the world as we know it would not exist.

Yet, sadly, many remain in ignorance about Garvey's work and he is still officially a convicted felon. It is for this reason that my fellow co-signees and I are urging President Barack Obama, based on H. CON. RES. 44 by the 111th Congress in in the House of Representatives to issue a full pardon EXONERATE (Give thanks Don Rico Ricketts ) Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

Here is the link to online petition to President Barack Obama to clear Marcus Garvey's name of the felony conviction on one count of mail fraud.

If you have benefitted directly or indirectly by Marcus Garvey; if you feel that Marcus Garvey was unjustly accused or if you just believe in justice, please add your name to the petition.


If you are searching for posts about Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey, Rastafari, or Dennis Scott, please check the archives.

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