Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. was born as the youngest of eleven children in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, to Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Sr., mason, and Sarah Jane Richards, a domestic worker. Only his sister Indiana along with Marcus survived to adulthood. His family was financially stable given the circumstances of this time period.Garvey’s father had a large library, and it was from his father that Marcus gained his love for reading. He also attended elementary schools in St. Ann’s Bay during his youth. While attending these schools, Garvey first began to experience racism.In 1907, he took part in an unsuccessful printer’s strike and the experience kindled in him a passion for political activism. In 1910 Garvey left Jamaica and began traveling throughout the Central American region. His first stop was Costa Rica, where he had a maternal uncle. He lived in Costa Rica for several months and worked as a time-keeper on a banana plantation. He began work as an editor for a daily newspaper called La Nacionale in 1911. Later that year, he moved to Colón, Panama, where he edited a biweekly newspaper, before returning to Jamaica in 1912. Over time, Marcus Garvey became influenced by many civil rights activists of his time. He ultimately combined the economic nationalist ideas of Booker T. Washington and Pan-Africanists with the political possibilities and urban style of men and women living outside of plantation and colonial societies.
After years of working in the Caribbean, Garvey left Jamaica to live in London from 1912 to 1914, where he attended Birkbeck College, taking classes in law and philosophy. He also worked for the African Times and Orient Review, published by Dusé Mohamed Ali, who was a considerable influence on the young man. Garvey sometimes spoke at Hyde Park‘s Speakers’ Corner.