September 19, 2012

A Recap of “Marcus Garvey: (Still) The Most Dangerous Black Man in America,”

(L.-R) Alda Noronha-Nimmo, Josett Peat, Karean Williams and Geoffrey Philp
Marcus Garvey: (Still) The Most Dangerous Black Man in America

The turnout for my presentation, “Marcus Garvey: (Still) the Most Dangerous Black Man in America,” was overwhelming, and I have to thank the faculty, staff, students, and Facebook friends for their support. Room 2151, which has maximum seating capacity of 250, didn’t have an empty chair and according to the door monitors, Jeff Green and Ildiko Barsony, we had to turn away approximately 50-100 students and guests from Miami Dade North, Barry College, and Florida International University.

My preparation for the lecture began three weeks ago, and I had two general goals 

1. To encourage voter turnout
2. To educate the audience about Marcus Garvey, Black Star Line, and Marcus Garvey’s trial and conviction, and the petition to exonerate Marcus Garvey.

I conducted a pre-lecture survey of likely attendees and 69.8% of the students said they were going to vote in the next election, which made my goal of reaching at least 75% seem feasible.

However, the next goal of educating the students about Marcus Garvey, Black Star Line, and Marcus Garvey’s trial and conviction, and the petition to exonerate Marcus Garvey seemed a bit more daunting.

On a scale of 1-5 (1 being no knowledge at all and 5 being excellent knowledge) most students knew very little about the topics I was going to cover in the lecture.

The responses for 1 (no knowledge at all) ranged from 59.5% on “How would you rate your knowledge of Marcus Garvey to 74.4% on “How would you rate your level of knowledge about Marcus Garvey’s trial and imprisonment.

When one considers Marcus Garvey’s influence in North, Central and South America, the countries of origin for many of our students, the thoroughness of Garvey’s erasure from our collective memory becomes apparent. I suspect that this trend will hold true across the general population.

This is a frightening statistic in a college that has over 150, 000 students with a demographic of 18% Black Non-Hispanic, and 8% White Non-Hispanic, and 71% Hispanic. At the North Campus, there is a slightly larger Black Non-Hispanic population with 38% Black Non-Hispanic, 6% White Non-Hispanic, and 52% Hispanic.

What is even more frightening is that Garvey is a symbol of that question that Professor Roy Augier posed in a similar context, “How will we negotiate the African presence in the Americas?”

On the best known quotes of Marcus Garvey from The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey is “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” From the results of this survey it seems as if I have a lot of work ahead of me—right in my own backyard.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see the post-lecture results.


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