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July 5, 2012

Marcus Garvey


CMC – Three Caribbean groups in the United States have launched a petition to President Barack Obama urging him to exonerate Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

Garvey, a Jamaican political leader, orator and entrepreneur, built the largest organisation of black people in history.

The groups said his philosophy of Garveyism which called for global economic independence, inspired movements for Pan-African and Caribbean independence, Black nationalism and civil rights.

The Marcus Garvey Celebrations Committee, the Institute of Caribbean Studies, and the Rootz Foundation have cited Jamaica’s 50th independence anniversary and Garvey’s 125th birthday in August, as “key reasons for fashioning this collective campaign”.

Garvey is a national hero of Jamaica and the Rastafari religion proclaim him as a prophet.

The organisations are the latest among several over the years, to denounce Garvey’s convictions by the US government in 1922 as a miscarriage of justice.

“The petition has the full support of Dr Julius Garvey, Marcus Garvey’s son,” said Justin Hansford, legal counsel to the groups. “We hope that this effort will help to undo the historic miscarriage of justice.”

On January 12, 1922, Garvey, who founded the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), was arrested by BOI, forerunner to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and charged with mail fraud.

In 1925, Garvey began serving a five-year sentence in a US penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia.

After several appeals, President Calvin Coolidge eventually commuted his sentence and he was deported to his native Jamaica. He died in London in 1940, aged 52.

Rootz Foundation President Priest Douglass Smith said “the exoneration of the Honourable Prophet Marcus Garvey is not just for Africans, but it is also a chance for the perpetuators to atone for the gross injustice”.

Dr. Claire Nelson, the Jamaican-born architect of National Caribbean American Heritage Month and president of the Washington-based Institute of Caribbean Studies, said “we want not just to exonerate Garvey but also to help re-invigorate his vision of a global trading company.”

The groups said they will celebrate “Universal Marcus Garvey Day” on August 17.


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