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Petition Tag - exoneration
Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887 – 1940). New Thinker, Writer, Publisher, Entrepreneur and Pan Africanist was Jamaican by birth but belongs to the Black Diaspora. Slain, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King and Kwame Nkrumah, former president of Ghana are some of the many change agents who respected Garvey for his courage.
Like Garvey before them, both leaders also fought for the enfranchisement of the Black Diaspora. If he were of another race, Garvey, by today’s standards would easily be honored a genius, a man before his time.
In 1914 Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). His goal was to unite all people of Black ancestry. To date, the UNIA holds the record for being the largest Black organization in the world. It was the precursor to the modern American civil rights movement. At the height of his career, Marcus Garvey established numerous projects to benefit and educate Blacks, among them the: Negro World newspaper; the Black Star Line shipping company; the Negro Factories Corporation; and the Liberia Colonization Plan. His creation of the Black Star Line to foster trade by and between Blacks around the world was revolutionary. Some of his feats have yet to be duplicated. More than 80 years later, there is still no black shipping company listed on the American stock exchange.
At a time when lynchings were popular in the American south, Garvey’s high profile conferences and writings were inspirational to Blacks around the world. But his speeches about Black liberation were deemed incendiary by the authorities and he became a constant target of governments on both sides of the Atlantic. The US Federal government, under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, mounted a campaign to undermine Garvey and destabilize the powerful movement. As head of the FBI, Hoover had previously admitted to having difficulty finding a legal reason to silence Garvey. Eventually the FBI succeeded by taking advantage of dissension among the upper ranks of the UNIA. During this effort, Garvey survived an assassination attempt and was subsequently indicted and sentenced for mail fraud despite the evidence being circumstantial. He was imprisoned in 1925 but public outcry continued after his incarceration. When 9 jurors who had previously convicted Garvey signed an affidavit for commutation, President Calvin Coolidge commuted his sentence. But that did not prevent his deportation in 1927.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, Professor Robert Hill of the University of California and editor of the massive 12-volume Marcus Garvey Papers project has since uncovered evidence in old FBI documents, including memos from J. Edgar Hoover himself, supporting the argument that the trial and imprisonment of Garvey were politically motivated.
Marcus Garvey is the first national hero of Jamaica. Around the world memorials have been erected in his honor and schools and colleges named after him. Since the 1980s US Congressman Charles Rangel has advocated on behalf of US citizens for Garvey’s exoneration. On February 10, 2009, he again submitted H. Conn. RES. 44 to the House of Representatives requesting the exoneration of Marcus Garvey.