16 February 2014

Garveyism: A Movement Defined By The Times!

Marcus Garvey: 08/17/1887~06/10/1940

"God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement." Marcus Garvey

I was visiting one of my favorite historical sites and noticed a perspective written by Robin Dearmon Muhammad titled "Garveyism Looks Toward the Pacific:The UNIA and Black Workers In the West". This article on their efforts in the west was quite illuminating and a grand gesture despite the daunting challenges. 

 I would encourage the readers to peruse the above piece. I feel that Mr. Garvey's movement and accomplishments have been diminished by some historians.  He's been described as buffoonish and was publicly denigrated by W.E.B. Dubois, whom at that time wasn't too interested in working class blacks and held a rather elistist view of black accomplishments.  There were failures and the trusting of some blacks who didn't take seriously his efforts to expand the goals of working class and poor African-Americans not only in the states but globally.                                               

Self-help and economic empowerment were his goals and I give him an A for effort/endeavor and F for those African-Americans who stood by and ridiculed him and those followers who were trying to "uplift the race" through action as well education.  They struggled for a better life.  Robin Muhammad's assessment clearly exemplifies Mr. Garvey's endeavors and those of his followers with historical accuracy than one would encounter in some versions of that phenomenon.  Professor Gates' views on Garveyism entailed a marginal view of what the movement was about and was rather brief and dismissive in the PBS special 'Many Rivers to Cross'.  Dr. Gates' personal views were also revealed when addressing what the movement tried to accomplish by focusing on the mistakes and marginalizing the successes that many of his urban followers and their families experienced during that trying period.  

There are many quotes and sayings about the importance of studying history and getting it right which usually requires ongoing scholarship for sources are debunked or multiple accounts lend to revisionism at its worse.  I read this quote by Professor Greiner on the importance of studying history and if I don't agree with him about anything else  ‘The clues to future success lie in the past’ rings true for me and adherents for the advance study of black history .

Related Link:  
W.E.B. Dubois Views of Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey

Robin Dearmon Muhammad
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