Marcus Mosiah Garvey (Part eight)

Later years

In 1928, Garvey travelled to Geneva to present the Petition of the Negro Race. This petition outlined the worldwide abuse of Africans to the League of Nations. In September 1929, he founded the People’s Political Party (PPP), Jamaica’s first modern political party, which focused on workers’ rightseducation, and aid to the poor. Also in 1929, Garvey was elected councilor for the Allman Town Division of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC). In July 1929, the Jamaican property of the UNIA was seized on the orders of the Chief Justice.[49] Garvey and his solicitor attempted to persuade people not to bid for the confiscated goods, claiming the sale was illegal and Garvey made a political speech in which he referred to corrupt judges.[50] As a result, he was cited for contempt of court and again appeared before the Chief Justice. He received a prison sentence, as a consequence of which he lost his seat. However, in 1930, Garvey was re-elected, unopposed, along with two other PPP candidates.

In April 1931, Garvey launched the Edelweiss Amusement Company. He set the company up to help artists earn their livelihood from their craft. Several Jamaican entertainers—Kidd Harold, Ernest Cupidon, Bim & Bam, and Ranny Williams—went on to become popular after receiving initial exposure that the company gave them. In 1935, Garvey left Jamaica for London. He lived and worked in London until his death in 1940. During these last five years, Garvey remained active and in touch with events in war-torn Ethiopia (then known as Abyssinia) and in the West Indies. In 1937, he wrote the poem Ras Nasibu Of Ogaden[51] in honor of Ethiopian Army Commander (RasNasibu Emmanual. In 1938, he gave evidence before the West India Royal Commission on conditions there. Also in 1938, he set up the School of African Philosophy in Toronto to train UNIA leaders. He continued to work on the magazine The Black Man.

While imprisoned Garvey had corresponded with segregationist Earnest Sevier Cox who was lobbying for legislation to “repatriate” African Americans to Africa. Garvey’s philosophy of Black racial self-reliance could be combined with Cox’s White Nationalism – at least in sharing the common goal of an African Homeland. Cox dedicated his short pamphlet “Let My People Go” to Garvey, and Garvey in return advertised Cox’ book “White America” in UNIA publications.[52]

In the summer of 1936, Garvey travelled from London to TorontoOntario, Canada, for five days of speeches and appearances. The Universal Negro Improvement Association had purchased a Hall on College Street in that city and a convention was held, where Garvey was the principal speaker. His five-day visit was front-page news.[53]

In 1937, a group of Garvey’s rivals called the Peace Movement of Ethiopia openly collaborated with the United States Senator from MississippiTheodore Bilbo, and Earnest Sevier Cox in the promotion of a repatriation scheme introduced in the US Congress as the Greater Liberia Act. Bilbo, an outspoken supporter of segregation and white supremacy and, attracted by the ideas of black separatists like Garvey, proposed an amendment to the federal work-relief bill on 6 June 1938, proposing to deport 12 million black Americans to Liberia at federal expense to relieve unemployment.[54] He took the time to write a book entitled Take Your Choice, Separation or Mongrelization, advocating the idea. Garvey praised him in return, saying that Bilbo had “done wonderfully well for the Negro”.[55] During this period, Evangeline Rondon Paterson, the future grandmother of the 55th Governor of New York State, David Paterson, served as his secretary.

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