Blacks that Traveled: Marcus Garvey

As a big-time lover of Reggae music I can’t recall how many times I’ve been under the red light swaying to rough, sweet, and gritty island music infused with voices shoutin’ “Selassie! Rastafari! Biko, Garvey” and so forth… My head always fell back towards the ceiling, eyes closed, listening, but never really listening or perhaps tonight I’d have a better clue. Perhaps those five minute roots reggae cuts weren’t really teachin’ much at all, but that I highly doubt. Truth is I don’t much about Biko or Garvey at all. Tonight I decided to find out the 411 on Marcus Garvey.

From Wikipedia I’ve found out these basic facts:
*Full name is Marcus Mosiah Garvey (August 17, 1887-June 10, 1940)
*National hero of Jamaica
*Born in St. Ann’s Bay, St. Ann Parish, Jamaica
*Remembered largely for the Back-to-Africa movement
*He was the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL)
*The red, green and black flag used by the UNIA was adopted as the Black Liberation Flag
*In September 1929 he founded the People’s Political Party (PPP), Jamaica’s first modern political party, which focused on worker’s rights, education and aid to the poor.
*As much as Rastafari’s regarded Garvey as a religious prophet, Garvey never identified with the Rastafari movement. He was raised Methodist and later became Roman Catholic.

I also found a number of poems written by Garvey on this site dedicated to Marcus Garvey. I read a few, but it was his Vision of Niagara that I found most interesting. Having recently visited the same spot he speaks of I think of how similar and how different both of our thoughts were about the misty magical falls of nature.

For the time being I think I’ve fed my mind with a bit more facts and tid-bits than I previously knew about this historical figure touched on by many rappers and more commonly reggae artists. So when the red light sways perhaps my mind will be ticking and thinking next time.

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