Impact of Marcus Garvey
By Dr. John Henrik Clarke
When Marcus Garvey died in 1940 the role of the British Empire was already being challenged by India and the rising expectations of her African colonies. Marcus Garvey’s avocation of African redemption and the restoration of the African state’s sovereign political entity in world affairs was still a dream without fulfillment.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, the United States would enter, in a formal way, what had been up to that date strictly a European conflict. Marcus Garvey’s prophesy about the European scramble to maintain dominance over the whole world was now a reality. The people of Africa and Asia had joined in this conflict but with different hopes, different dreams and many misgivings. Africans throughout the colonial world were mounting campaigns against this system which had robbed them of their nation-ness and their basic human-ness. The discovery and the reconsideration of the teachings of the honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey were being rediscovered and reconsidered by a large number of African people as this world conflict deepened.
In 1945, when World War II was drawing to a close the 5th Pan-African Congress was called in Manchester, England. Some of the conventioneers were: George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, W.E.B. Dubois, Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya. Up to this time the previous Pan-African Congresses had mainly called for improvements in the educational status of the Africans in the colonies so that they would be prepared for self-rule when independence eventually came.
The Pan-African Congress in Manchester was radically different from all of the other congresses. For the first time Africans from Africa, Africans from the Caribbean and Africans from the United States had come together and designed a program for the future independence of Africa. Those who attended the conference were of many political persuasions and different ideologies, yet the teachings of Marcus Garvey were the main ideological basis for the 5th Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England in 1945.
Some of the conveners of this congress would return to Africa in the ensuing years to eventually lead their respective nations toward independence and beyond. In 1947, a Ghanaian student who had studied ten years in the United States, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah returned to Ghana on the invitation of Joseph B. Danquah, his former schoolmaster. Nkrumah would later become Prime Minister. In his fight for the complete independence for the Gold Coast later to be known as Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah acknowledged his political indebtedness to the political teachings of Marcus Garvey.
On September 7, 1957, Ghana became a free self-governing nation, the first member of the British Commonwealth of Nations to become self-governing. Ghana would later develop a Black Star Line patterned after the maritime dreams of Marcus Garvey. My point here is that the African Independence Explosion, which started with the independence of Ghana, was symbolically and figuratively bringing the hopes of Marcus Garvey alive.
In the Caribbean Islands the concept of Federation and Political union of all the islands was now being looked upon as a realizable possibility. Some constitutional reforms and changing attitudes, born of this awareness, were improving the life of the people of these islands.
In the United States the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954, outlawing segregation in school systems was greeted with mixed feelings of hope and skepticism by African-Americans. A year after this decision the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Freedom Rides and the demand for equal pay for Black teachers that subsequently became a demand for equal education for all, would become part of the central force that would set the fight for liberation in motion.
The enemies of Africans, the world over were gathering their counter-forces while a large number of them pretended to be sympathetic to the African’s cause. Some of these pretenders, both Black and White, were F.B.I. and other agents of the government whose mission it was to frustrate and destroy the Civil Rights Movement. In a different way the same thing was happening in Africa. The coups and counter-coups kept most African states from developing into the strong independent and sovereign states they had hoped to become.
While the Africans had gained control over their state’s apparatus, the colonialist’s still controlled the economic apparatus of most African states. Africans were discovering to their amazement that a large number of the Africans, who had studied abroad were a detriment to the aims and goals of their nation. None of them had been trained to rule an African state by the use of the best of African traditional forms and strategies. As a result African states, in the main, became imitations of European states and most of their leaders could justifiably be called Europeans with black faces. They came to power without improving the lot of their people and these elitist governments continue until this day.
In most cases what went wrong was that as these leaders failed to learn the lessons of self-reliance and power preparation as advocated by Marcus Garvey and in different ways by Booker T. Washington, W.E.B Dubois, Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. Africa became infiltrated by foreign agents. Africans had forgotten, if they knew at all, that Africa is the world’s richest continent, repository of the greatest mineral wealth in the world. They had not asked themselves nor answered the most critical question. If Africa is the world’s richest continent, why is it so full of poor people? Marcus Garvey advocated that Africans control the wealth of Africa. He taught that control, control of resources, control of self, control of nation, requires preparation, Garveyism was about total preparation.
There is still no unified force in Africa calling attention to the need for this kind of preparation. This preparation calls for a new kind of education if Africans are to face the reality of their survival.
Africans in the United States must remember that the slave ships brought no West Indians, no Caribbeans, no Jamaicans or Trinidadians or Barbadians to this hemisphere. The slave ships brought only African people and most of us took the semblance of nationality from the places where slave ships dropped us off. In the 500 year process of oppression the Europeans have displaced our God, our culture, and our traditions. They have violated our women to the extent that they have created a bastard race who is confused as to whether to be loyal to its mother’s people or its fathers people and for the most part they remain loyal to neither. I do not think African people can succeed in the world until they hear again Marcus Garvey’s call: AFRICA FOR THE AFRICANS, THOSE AT HOME AND ABROAD. We must regain our confidence in ourselves as a people and learn again the methods and arts of controlling nations. We must hear again Marcus Garvey calling out to us: UP! UP! YOU MIGHTY RACE! YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH WHAT YOU WILL!
6 thoughts on “African Horus: The Impact of Marcus Garvey — By Dr John Henrik Clarke”
Keep up the good work!
this is a wonderful and insightful article, but does anybody know when it was written and how first published it ?
thank you, it will be a big help to me, as i am using it for my history coursework, as i am doing about Marcus Garvey’s contribution to the civil rights movement.
The late Dr. John Henrik Clarke was a fascinating and profoundly inspiring intellectual and Pan Afrikan nationalist. This essay is an example of his profound political and cultural insight and the clarity of his perspective as an Afrikan historian.
I suspect this should motivate many who find his perspective enlightening and transformative to want to explore more deeply his contributions, his research, and his ideas.
If you forgive the modesty (this is something Dr. Clarke would have said), there is a new study on the late scholar titled John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History: Africalogical Quest for Decolonization and Sovereignty (Africa World Press, 2009). ISBN: 1-59221-627-7.
It’s my study. And it is the first book-length academic study of the late scholar.
Rather than primarily a biography of the great sage, this fascinating read explores Dr. Clarke’s intellectual contribution to U.S. and global African thought and culture, including African and African American history, Black Studies, liberation, and the concept of Afrocentricity.
Adorned with a magnificently attractive cover design, this book is ideal for those who are interested in learning more about Africana intellectualism and cultural thought in the 19th and 20th centuries.
It explores Dr. Clarke’s academic training in Harlem, his role as one of the major architects of Black Studies, and his contribution to African thought and culture in the United States, Africa, and the world.
I would welcome your review of the work.
Ahati N. N. Toure, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Africana History and Black Studies
Department of History, Political Science, and Philosophy
Delaware State University
what are the contribution of Du Bois to pan africanism?
It is indeed infuriating that we still have borders in Africa created by devils like Bismark & Leopold in the late 1880s in Berlin.
However, the vision is all there in the Africa Union strategies:
1) One Africa Federation: United States of Afrika
2) One Passport for Africans/free access to all Africans to travel, live, trade, work in the country/continent-without idiot visa restrictions
3) 3 or 4 National languages-probably Kiswhahili, Arabic, English/French (the latter 2 especially unavoidable……in the immediate future.
4) One Education Policy!
3) One Foreign Policy and of course a seat in the Security council
4)One coherent Economic Policy(ies) -As sage Dr. Clarke reminds us-Africa is the richest continent on the planet
5) Rights of Abode for Africans in the Diaspora (Motherland Ethiopia needs those skills!)
Marcus Garvey’s vision lives! There is no solid reason why we can not implement the above in our life time:
But then it means that 50 or so presidents will lose their status immediately. The respective parliaments, civil service of the Berlin constructs that we call countries will be affected by unsettling changes.
snitches, opportunities, academics, preachers, moguls, pirates, killers, thugs, sabbotagge spoofs from within and without the continent are always at hand to keep us hopeless and cynical in this MOST LOGICAL OF VISIONS.
Let us demand ONE AFRICA NOW.
WE ARE ARICANS!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Are we brave enough to face the challenge of walking in the Footsteps of our great forefathers and mothers like Nkrumah Kwame, Marcus Garvey, Malcom X. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks?
In my country, the youth have been blinded by the beckon of the luxurious West and have no time to meditate on the future of Africa. It is no longer slave ships that carry our best out of Africa, but Business Class flights to the promise of plenty and escape out of the ‘ruined’ continent.
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