of the biggest challenges African people face in America is to
rejuvenate Black Nationalist thinking as struggle to determine for
ourselves as a people what is in our best collective interests.
are far too many African people in this country who think what is
good for other people should be good for us. Nothing could be further
from the truth. We can only determine what is good for us by
reestablishing Black Nationalist thinking and developing a Black
Nationalist program of action. This is the missing link to the
liberation of African people in America. Let us briefly review the
development and impact of Black Nationalism in America.
Nationalism is a tradition that emerged in the early
nineteenth-century among those Black leaders who understood the need
for African people in America to develop a national entity as the
only solution for Black people in North America, Latin America, or
nineteenth-century Black Nationalist leaders such as Denmark Vessey,
Nat Turner, David Walker, Henry Highland Garnet, James T. Holly,
Martin R. Delany, Pap Singleton, Edwin McCabe, and Henry McNeal
Turner understood that African people in America were a “nation
within a nation” and should organize to collectively struggle
for the liberation of Black people in this country and throughout the
this era there were some Black Nationalist leaders before, and after
the Civil War, who led movements for people of African ancestry to
leave this country and establish a homeland somewhere else. These
proposals included Africa, Canada, and the Caribbean.
Black Nationalist leaders led movements for Black people to control
the towns where they lived and others who led movements to the
western region of this country to establish all Black towns in Kansas
core of this Black Nationalist tradition has been to defeat and
overthrow the system of white supremacy, seize control of land
(somewhere) and to achieve self determination for the oppressed Black
Black Nationalist tradition has always been opposed to integrations,
assimilation, and accommodation as a solution to the problems of
people of African ancestry in America. In this regard, Black
Nationalist tradition has rejected the strategy and tactics of
appealing to the morality of white people and their white supremacy
Nationalists have been historically clear that people in power don’t
teach powerless people how to get power. And they certainly don’t
give power away, even though, when challenged, they may give up some
Black Nationalism emerged in the twentieth-century, the Honorable
Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the establishment of the Universal Negro
Improvement Association (UNIA) and the African Communicates League
(ACL) became the leading spokesman for Black Nationalist ideas and
used his varied skills to become on of our true twentieth-century
freedom fighters. Garvey arrived in Harlem, New York on March 16,
1916. By 1919, Garvey was well established as the President General
of the UNIA/ACL that had membership of over three million people with
more than three hundred branches in the United States.
Garvey’s greatest contribution to the upliftment of our people,
through Black Nationalism, was his ability to find a formula for
organizing African people around the African principle: the greatest
good for the greatest number.
was reflected in the First International Convention of the Negro
Peoples of the World, in Madison Square Garden, in 1920. Over twenty
thousand Black people from all over the world witnessed the choosing
of Red, Black, and Green as the colors of the Provisional Government.
this context, Garvey and the UNIA/ACL had established an economic
arm, the Negro Factories Corporation, with cooperative stores,
restaurants, steam laundry ships, tailor shops, dressmaking shops,
millinery stores, a doll factory to manufacture Black dolls and a
publishing house. Also, Garvey formed a Steamship Corporation.
Black Nationalist tradition was continued in the twentieth-century
through the Nation of Islam and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad who
utilized many of the Garvey and UNIA/ACL organizing tactics and
was during the 1960s Black Power explosion that the Black Nationalist
tradition reemerged through the influence of Malcolm X who adopted
Black Nationalism as the political philosophy, economic and social
philosophy of the organization of Afro American Unity in 1964.
the Black Nationalist tradition, today, is spearheaded through the
African Centered Education Movement. The mass acceptance of Kwanzaa,
African Liberation Day, Buy Black Campaigns, the Reparations
Movement, and Controlling Our Own Communities Campaigns are all part
of the ongoing Black Nationalist tradition.
vigorous Black Nationalist thinking and an aggressive Black
Nationalist program of action, we will continue to chase false dreams
created by our oppressors. We must put an end to this!
Black Nationalism is understood by all Black people, it will be the
foundation upon which the true liberation of people of African
ancestry in America will take place.