Marcus Garvey's relations with the Left (Episode 3 of 14); Black power origins
Afro-American militancy the garbage movement. Tonight we. Will give the second part. A two part discussion of the Garvey movement. The aim is not to. Really summarize the movement of those telling us what its major goals were and that sort of thing but rather to try to give a feeling of what it was like. We are leaving out some very important details. I just like to convey an idea of how it worked in a day to day level. And in addition to tackle some of the ideological problems that were trying to tackle in this series as a whole. For instance there is the question of just how radical was the
black nationalism of Garvey ism and one of course ways one might look at radicalism and black organization was how deeply was it ingrained in helping the masses rather than a few. How. Far did it go and really conveying an approach which would help all Legros and they rose as a large group rather than help a few individuals and accept you know sort of spiritual uplift or something of that sort which really rapidly generates from radicalism into conservatism. The Garvey movement obviously went farther than any movement has gone in after American history in rallying the masses and accenting the masses in masses as a group and individuals as a whole. Black people they certainly certainly were detached from American
mores and ways out in their own world their own social world. They didn't go on to adopt socialism or unity with the Socialist International the other major force in the world of course. Besides nationalism which rallies hold large groups on a group basis. And yet for all the fighting and there was certainly a lot of fighting between Garvey ites and individual socialist the issue of a collectivist ideology was never resolved within the UN. The businesses were cooperative. They run money and all went to the group as a whole to be used for the group and organization as a whole. And socialist participated in UN AI conventions and in chapters pretty much right on up through the late 1920s. According to a little history the movement by Mrs. Amy Jax
Garvey a very valuable book had Garvey as a University of California library has a copy of socialist were quite active as late as the international You and I. Convention of one thousand twenty four. And guest white speakers from time to time and Una conventions. Showed a radical bent for instance there was the guest white speaker at the 921 convention the noted pacifist and Communist Party member Mrs. Rose pastor Stokes sheep proclaimed the glories of Bolshevism to the Liberty Hall audience and asked for an endorsement of the Soviet form of government. The delegates in attendance decided to withhold the decision on the matter. One way to see the overall sort of effect political attitude at SE of Garvey ism as a movement. Not just the man but the thousands of people who participated.
People of different persuasions one of the ways and probably the best was to look at the negro world. The weekly of the organization. This was the probably the one single most important cohesive force tending tending to mitigate ever ominous threats of you and I a dissolution and division Darby's weekly newspaper was predicated on the presumption that it was the Negro newspaper. Its role was to aid the development of unity among black people. Reading this paper one should be struck by the similarities to Mohammed speaks today. As for the negro world throughout its existence from 1900 to mid 933 it consistently gave support to most any attempt to organize negroes on a mass basis often newsworthiness seemed to be decided merely on having black people involved irrespective of political content in the issue.
For instance when U.S. Marines invaded Nicaragua in one thousand twenty seven there appeared in the February 5th issue an account of the laboring masses rallying to the defense of their country under the leadership of the Liberal Party. The same Liberal Party was the villain of a February 19th story which told of a battalion of black women formed and led by a 20 year old girl which fought to assist conservative forces which recently quote captured the town of Chinon Degas from the liberal troops. The paper was of Negra world was not at all doctrinaire in choosing its sources. It had a broad collection fact of news sources many items were taken for instance from the Daily Worker. Some of the headlines of which ran the Daily Worker stories put in the Negro were all quote US capitalist have a new way to free Ethiopian slaves. Quote. Are the Philippines a Chinese problem. And Sacco and Vanzetti petition signed.
Some of the worldwide newspapers which had regular quotes taken from them put in the Negril world were the Gold Coast lieder Gold Coast Times independence British under US which had a columnist Garvey II. The South African worker the Johannesburg Star the Rand Daily Mail the Johannesburg English African language paper the Kingston Jamaica Daily Gleaner and any number of reports from the ground white newspapers in the United States. Most of the foreign news dealt with activities abroad but there were many other stories such as the series run on labor strikes in Shanghai. Another series explained Hindu philosophy a story taken from the South African worker told of how the African National Congress of South Africa had been taken over by moderates and
the worker warned quote as reak printed in the Negro world the ANC will merely remain a name and not a very prominent one at that. So long as it neglects to concern itself with the main fight of the oppressed African native namely the fight against capitalist exploitation and quote. Now in another vein and sort of an example of the really intriguing ambiguity of the negro world. In February in the February 19th one thousand twenty seven issue there was a bold faced item announcing that the negro communist Richard B more was falsely representing the U.N. I am at the Brussels International Congress of oppressed peoples. More was declared to have never been a member of the US A. And the article closed with the comment. Quote. There is a great gulf fixed between communism and Garvey ism and quote. However the issue of August fifteen thousand nine hundred twenty seven.
There was a statement of the final resolutions of this Brussels Congress which more had been in attendance at. With the added tag line stating that the Nigro world was quote indebted to the press service of the league against imperialism and for national independence. The league against imperialism and for national independence was an organ of the Communist International. Now this eclectic news policy of the negro world seems attributable in part to many ships and editorship. Although Marcus Garvey his name appeared as editor in chief. In actuality going to a story by the Pittsburgh Courier reporter Floyd Calvin control of the paper was given from the very first two assistant editors during 1999 and part of one thousand twenty the militant. Domingo was in charge after his expulsion for socialist leanings garri the leadership was given to the more conservative William Ferris Ferris accented a literary approach and gave much space to writers and historians on the growing
African life. The paper retained as assistants to Farris at least two socialist and Hubert Harrison and Eric Walrond. In the mid 20s the one time Henry George supporter Thomas fortune was editor in charge. Later it was Reverend Brown and finally the highly intellectual Hindu and immigrant from India HGA must go. One of the progressive traits of the Negra world was that shortage of stories on big name negroes of the black bush was the type of reporting which dominated most negro papers. International news items rarely dealt with African chieftain's the sort of black bourgeoisie of Halfrek. In contrast editor Dubois of the crisis sought to stimulate interest in Africa with a large numbers of features on the royalty of the Fatherland. The social page of the paper was devoted to club news to the U.N. I counts of branch picnics and other affairs the saccharin gossip stories on
Negril notables were almost nonexistent. Perhaps Darby's jealousy of competitors for his greatness dictated the down play on Negro leaders. Then again there was little support for the U.N. I am among the black bourgeoisie Hance few who could merit comment in the you and I press. Lack of middle class support for a garbage can be discerned in the advertising of the Negril world which was consisted of individual shop owners occultist patent medicines at large Bayer Aspirin ad and appeals to buy Madam Walker's hair conditioner. Conspicuously absent were the usual type of Negro press ads ads were unsure and the GRO insurance companies or this or that college or finishing school and with the exception of Madame Walker there were no enticements for bleaching creams or hair straighteners. Madame Walker happen to be a heavy contributor to the UN I am which explains their advertising which was carefully worded to avoid reference to straightening hair and accent conditioning instead
were opposed to falsifying. African beauty. However on the touchy subject of hair there was no concerted effort to get the gross to go natural. No rulings were made. Rather it's just let things lie. The Negra world displayed a militancy in bits and snatches and often isolated unrelated items. There was much more to labor news than in most race weeklies. The communist sponsored American Negro labor Congress as in one thousand twenty five and twenty seven were well covered. Amy Jacks Garvey's Woman's Page was unique among Negro newspaper women's pages. Mrs. Garvey was a thoroughgoing advocate of intellectual emancipation for women items in her U.S. accented subjects of interest to the feminine crusaders of the flapper era. There were many reports of women in Asia in Africa freeing themselves from traditional customs of
subordination to the male. Mrs. Garvey's Woman's Page was headlined are women and what they think she aimed to make you think. And all sections of the Negril world prays for the new Negro was overused. Still there was criticism of quote sappy new Negro literature which negro world felt was using sensationalism as a selling point to reach white audiences. Well I'm in the final analysis it can be said with certainty that Darby I'd show radical potential. It didn't fully realize itself because of personal battles and inability to come to firm decisions. And in addition radicalism went on realized because of counter tendencies in the movement pulling toward conservatism. Although the UN I had little support from established black middle classes. This is not to say that they were or was not a sizable percentage of
Garvey ites who deeply coveted such support. The conservative tendency was shown in the rhetoric of promoting you and I. Businesses from pronouncements one could hardly know that these enterprises were cooperatives individuals were urged to buy stock and invents invest capital. Free enterprise business jargon was mixed in with talk of black nobility and of the African empire as well. Garvey was a severe critic of socialist. And they in turn considered this a sign of conservatism. Socialist would not admit that. Criticize them both with conservative arguments that socialists are too radical and with radical arguments that socialist were too conservative. On the one hand Garvey employed the standard anti-socialist cliche that they were seeking a bloody revolution for their own
ulterior motives. On the other hand he condemned the left for relying too heavily on a coalition with the white labor movement which was permeated with racism and discriminatory policies toward blacks. Here the onus of conservatism is directed at the leftist. Garvey also questioned the radicalism of socialism in the international sphere since it was a European dominated movement and hence white dominated. He saw it as an untrustworthy ally of colored peoples. Today socialism is a powerful force in Western Europe and yet the nations of that area are engaged in neo colonialist exploitation of Asia and Africa. This would tend to suggest some validity to Garvey's thesis. His theoretical. Findings however are not his main argument against socialist for the most part he denounced them for failing to support race unity through the you and I. To move on.
Are so many other things that could be said about this movement to convey a picture. Let us just close with a description of the 1922 convention. The real turning point of Garvey ism. The summer of 1992 was the turning point. The white establishment was out to get the movement and about to arrest the leader on a charge of using the mails to defraud. Within the ghetto There were anti Garvie factions which were marshalling an ever stronger attack on Garvey ites. There were black leftists and liberals who took the occasion of division here in one thousand twenty two to organize a number of anti Garvie demonstrations and meetings. Within the UN I felt there was a growing fraction ready and willing to curb the leader's influence.
As we approached the it's a convention of August. I see a dissolution of post World War One black radicalism in general. There it had been a subsiding of fervor after 1919 and the problems of that year race riots so forth. And with the declining fervor there Id been a decline in Darby as I'm from 1020 on loss of membership and particularly some problems around money. What happened to expenditures. For steamships garri I was paying extortionist rates for steamships he bought for his back to Africa and the whites over charged him much as they gross get overcharged for buying a house in the suburbs today. Whites overcharge for Garvey for buying steamships to go back to Africa.
There were other problems spending money though guarding him and his lieutenants made very little and in personal take home pay. Still all sorts of aside. Money spent out donate a lot of money under the table to get new stories put in newspapers concerning the movement to popularized the movement. Little things of the sort added up. And as of the 1922 convention there was a widespread feeling that something must be done to tighten the movement to put it together to draw together the finances in a rational way. Most of all the for the 922 convention there was the problem of Garvey's meeting with the Ku Klux Klan. And July one thousand twenty two.
Garvey had met with the Klu Klux Klan pardon me in June of 1992 he traveled to Atlanta to interview the Imperial Wizard of the Klan to discuss the back to Africa plan in Garvey's view. Whites were whites all to be shunned and might as well work with one as well as the other. His Imperial Highness would not see Garvey and sent instead the assistant imperial wizard. Returning to Harlem Garvey was quoted in the Negril weekly in the New York age as saying that in reference to the Klan quote the attitude of Negril should not be to fight it not to aggravate it but to think of what it means and say and do nothing. It will not help us to fight it or its program. The negro numerical disadvantage in this country is too great. The wish of 15 million negroes means nothing when 90 million white men do not wish it. How should the Afro-American solve this problem. Garvey answered. The only way it can be
solved is for the Negro to create a government of his own in Africa. Now compromising with the media screw Klux Klan gave critics Garvie a powerful argument. And critics worse now is prevalent within the movement as without the Reverend James East and had emerged in the movement as a leader of a strong Garvie opposition. Members of which were saying quote quote The Chicago Defender. If the movement is to succeed Garvey must follow others who possess saner and wiser policies. This comes from the garb of the faction about to do battle with Garvey at the 1922 convention Darby maneuver to avoid a floor fight by springing an announcement that he was resigning his post. Then in front of a packed Liberty Hall audience he personally accused decent of double
dealing him men attempting to ruin his empire. And the Reverend essent leader of the opposition angered by the remark rushed at the speaker's platform with fists tightened and had to be forcibly restrained from punching Garvie police outside the hall had to be called in to quell the subsequent disturbance. Continuing is maneuvering Garvie allowed himself to be made to stay on in his post but added his desire that association leadership be reorganized in such a way that half of the top two dozen offices would cease to be elective and instead be chosen by the president general who is Garvey previously all had been elected from the floor of the convention. The reorganization plan was agreed to and for the remaining elective offices Garvey announced a slate of approved candidates amid it were a number of names of men then in office. He was to have his way at this convention but it was not without a fight. The elections were bitterly fought in one case the garbage candidate lost in a runoff vote 92 to 85.
But Garvey announced that the majority was to slam Garvey was the speaker of the house here on this vote and he called for another vote. It was already past midnight and it was around 1:00 o'clock when the revolt found the Garvey supporter of victor by 17 votes 70 vote margin which GAAR be considered an acceptable majority. This showing of Garvey critics although defeated creates a picture of a more dynamic organization than the usually imagined one man show. And outside the convention hall of thirty one thousand twenty two conventions socialist and liberals together working integration this mystique posing Garvie held forth with a number of street rallies. There were also outside the hall a number of sort of black nationalists of other persuasions than Garvey as for instance there was Cyril Briggs of the African blood brotherhood and Marxist black nationalist who had with him.
Many a minority visitor from South Africa minorities opinions to quote. We are not favorably impressed with the unmitigated presumption of this man Garvey in electing himself provisional president of Africa and in reference to Garvey remark about his enemy soon meeting their Waterloo. I know he remarked. We are bothered less by the water in Waterloo than by the gas and Darby and the gullibility of his poor dupes. Night after night Briggs and minority derided the Garvey ites. On August 11th at the corner one hundred thirty fifth and Seventh Avenue there was quite a street brawl between. Briggs forces and Garvey forces. But nobody was trying to speak and it's attacked police stopped the guard and let me know to go on. The first week in September with the.
Convention over. There were at least four separate meetings of organizations specifically out to denounce Garvey. One was led by Reverend ISA now out of the You and I. He had left to form his own Negro Improvement Association. He distinguished his organization as one interested in problems of negroes in the United States rather than elsewhere. According to him there were many immediate pressing problems in this country which would quote which would leave no time for activity abroad. The problems of Garvey Heights after the convention. It sort of snowballed rapidly one after another and led to the dissolution of the movement it really cracked it open although it existed on till the end of the
1920s as the leading negro organization. It was the convention and the fall of. Twenty two next year 1923 which really brought to an end this greatest of all movement as a really powerful force. In the fall of one thousand twenty two. The opposition now that there had been such a division and Garvey had made the mistake of dealing with the Klan. The opposition unified socialists liberals and others got together there was a nationwide tour which Philip Randolph Chancellor Owen and William Pickens toward the country to discredit Garvey with the slogan Garvey must go. There was a letter signed by a number of leading Negroes to the attorney general of the United States asking the garbage be prosecuted for mail fraud case had been pending and not been pushed forward. And the activities of Easton became something of a sensation and. A real
tragedy. He had been a minister in Philadelphia before joining the U.N. and when he broke with Darby he returned to his home city to seek support for his new organization. He was given a rough time there by a local guard who stopped his supporters in the streets and intimidated and manhandled them. While speaking in Chicago in November I got shot and seriously wounded a negro policeman. That's why Lisa was speaking there and the assailant had been trying to hit Easton. In December and was in New Orleans trying to take advantage of widespread unrest within the Garvey movement in that city. Around this time it became known that he had agreed to be a star prosecution witness at the pending Darby trial on mail fraud. New Year's evening Easton held one last meeting in New Orleans before leaving to testify in the Garvey trial. The meeting over he was walking back to his place of residence when two men stepped out of a dark alley way called his name and shot him down before he died he said identified the
assailants as members of the You and I in New Orleans. Two weeks later the two men were picked up after a mass raid on the local Garvey headquarters. The defendants pleaded innocent but added that some had it coming in the wake of the Klan episode Sessa nation. There came the climactic mail fraud trial. Garvey probably could have won an acquittal. His three co-defendants won their cases to Garvey However the trial was political rather than judicial. The initial prosecution statement implied an attempt to defame the movement in its entirety. This is often been all overlooked in histories of the Garvey movement. It is often emphasize or most often it is emphasized that this trial was pushed by negro opponents of Garvey ism. Here is the. From the part of the initial prosecution statement
in this famous trial. Quote While there center around Garvey other other associations or corporations having for their object the uplift of the advancement of the Negro race the entire scheme of uplift was used to persuade Negroes for the most part to buy shares of stock in the Black Star Line when defendants well knew that said shares were not and in all human probability could never be worth five dollars or any other sum of money. That's because there are some dot dot dots in that but there is statement of the prosecution going against this Garvey set out to prove that the UN I-A was in fact quote more intent on the ultimate uplifting and salvation that was promised to the Negro race of America than in the paltry profits that might be realized from the stock investment. As one of the lawyers for Garvey's defendants put it quote If everyone could have put every dime every penny into the
sea and if he might get in exchange the knowledge that he was somebody that he meant something in the world he would gladly do it. The Black Star Line was a loss in money but it was again in Seoul. And quote The trial took an entire month from April into May of one thousand twenty three. There were days of testimony by you and I members as to how much the movement had done for the Negrito impatient with the legalisms of his attorney Garvey dismissed as lawyer and proceeded to defend himself taking liberal opportunities to lecture on problems of color in related subjects which were unrelated to the question of mail fraud. Convicted Garvey made an unsuccessful appeal. Supreme Court refused to review case and in one thousand twenty five the U.N. I later entered Atlanta penitentiary to serve a five year sentence. Two years later as a reward for Garbus endorsement of cool President Coolidge in one thousand twenty four elections Coolidge pardoned him and Garvey was deported as an undesirable alien.
- Black power origins
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- KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
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- Pacifica Radio Archives (North Hollywood, California)
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- In this third episode, Ted Vincent explores Marcus Garvey's relations with the Left and the causes of the decline of his movement.
- Talk Show
- Garvey, Marcus, 1887-1940; Black nationalism--United States--History--20th century; African Americans--Civil rights--History
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Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
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Pacifica Radio Archives
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