Marcus Moziah Garvey (1887-1940) migrated to the USA from his native Jamaica at the age of 29, in 1916. Within a few short years he had become the idol of the black masses of the USA, the Caribbean and Latin America. Branches of his “Universal Negro Improvement Association’ (UNIA) were found in every major city in the USA, in the Caribbean Islands, in Central America, and even across the Atlantic in the British and French colonies of West Africa. A dynamic orator and fluent writer, Garvey was also a master of pageantry. But his charisma alone cannot explain the remarkable response he obtained from Black America. The attraction can be found in his policies; for Marcus Garvey was one of the first Black racial nationalists.
Like many of today’s nationalists, Garvey was first of all attracted to the Leftwing. He worked in close alliance with the Communists and Socialists in the Afro-American Liberty League. However, Garvey did not confine his activities to social and economic grievances. He also understood and gave expression to the spiritual needs of American Blacks in their striving for racial recognition. After centuries of being in America, blacks felt identity-less removed from their African homeland and culture. They had become totally removed from their ancestral roots. Gradually Garvey placed more and more emphasis on the struggle for racial self-respect