Harlem renassiance

Marcus Garvey and his organization, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), represent the largest mass movement in African-American history. Proclaiming a black nationalist “Back to Africa” message, Garvey and the UNIA established 700 branches in thirty-eight states by the early 1920s. While chapters existed in the larger urban areas such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, Garvey’s message also reached into small towns across the country. His philosophy and organization had a rich religious component that he blended with the political and economic aspects.
Garvey was born in 1887 in St. Anne’s Bay, Jamaica. Due to the economic hardship of his family, he left school at age fourteen and learned the printing and newspaper business. He became interested in politics and soon got involved in projects aimed at helping those on the bottom of society. Unsatisfied with his work, he traveled to London in 1912 and stayed in England for two years. While in London, he read Booker T. Washington’s autobiography Up From Slavery. Washington believed African Americans needed to improve themselves first, showing whites in America that they deserved equal rights. Although politically involved behind the scenes, Washington repeatedly claimed that African Americans would not benefit from political activism and started an industrial training school in Alabama that embodied his own philosophy of self-help. Garvey embraced Washington’s ideas and returned to Jamaica to found the UNIA with the motto “One God! One Aim! One Destiny!
Initially he kept very much in line with Washington by encouraging his fellow Jamaicans to work hard, demonstrate good morals and a strong character, and not worry about politics. Garvey did not make much headway in Jamaica and decided to visit America in order to learn more about the situation of African Americans. When Garvey came to America, he decided to travel around the country and observe African Americans and their struggle for equal rights. Garvey saw a shifting population and a diminishing hope in Jim Crows demise. African Americans were moving in large numbers out of the rural South and into the urban areas of both North and South. After surveying the racial situation in America, Garvey was convinced that integration would never happen and that only economic, political, and cultural success on the part of African Americans would bring about equality and respect. With this goal he established the headquarters of the UNIA in New York in 1917 and began to spread a message of Black Nationalism and the Back to Africa campaign. Garvey held nightly meetings in Liberty Hall in Harlem and began a newspaper, Negro World, which by 1920 had a circulation somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000. Garvey knew African Americans would not take action if they did not change their perceptions of themselves. He hammered home the idea of racial pride by celebrating the African past and encouraging African Americans to be proud of their heritage and proud of the way they looked.
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