this present era of economic and educational onslaught against the
African Community in America, it is important that we understand that
the rise of the African Centered Education Movement should be linked
to our quest for economic independence.
must free the “African mind” through African Centered
Educational activities so that we might better understand the
importance of economic self-reliance.
model that we draw strength from in pursuing economic and educational
liberation established by the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the
Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in the 1920s.
more I read and study about Marcus Garvey, the more I am amazed at
the great contributions he made to African people to become a self
reliant and self sufficient people. At the core of Marcus Garvey’s
program was his urging of African people to acquire education and
economic power. As he always started, “A race without power is
a race without respect.”
we examine the economic condition of Africans in America, and
throughout the world, we find one glaring problem— African
people do not control our economic resources at the level we should.
This is primarily due to our miseducation as a people. In a
disproportionate manner, African people depend on the European and
Asian world for food, clothing, and shelter. More often than not, the
European and Asian worlds are the producers, processors,
distributors, and wholesalers. African people are the consumers.
was one of the major problems that the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey
addressed during his lifetime and that Minister Louis Farrakhan
continues to address.
Dr. Tony Martin writes in his book Race First, which is one of
the best books written on the works of Marcus Garvey, “Marcus
Garvey, unlike his major rivals in the United States, built a mass
organization that went beyond civil-rights agitation and protest and
based itself upon a definite, well thought out program that he
believed would lead to the total emancipation of the race from white
implement his program, Garvey set up the Negro Factories Corporation
(NFC). Its objective was to build and operate factories in the big
industrial centers of the United States, Central America, the
Caribbean, and Africa. The NFC established a chain of cooperative
grocery stores, a restaurant, a steam laundry, tailor and dressmaking
shop, a millinery store, and a publishing house.
Garvey also established a steamship company, The Black Star Line. He
envisioned a fleet of steamers carrying passengers and establishing
trade among African people of the United States, Central America, the
Caribbean, and Africa.
the summer of 1920, Garvey launched his full blown program at the
First Annual Convention of the Universal Negro Improvement
Association (UNIA) of which he was the founder and first President
August 2, 1920, after a massive parade of thousands of well drilled,
uniformed ranks of the UNIA, 35,000 delegates from allover the United
States and some twenty-five countries convened at Madison Square
Garden, in New York City. It was, according to the New York Times,
one of the largest gatherings in the history of the hall.
Martin explains that, “Central to the ideological basis
underpinning Garvey’s program was the question of race. For
Garvey, the Black man was universally oppressed on racial grounds,
and no matter how much people try to shy away from this issue, the
fact is, this is still true today.”
Malcolm X used to say, it was our Blackness “which caused so
much hell not our identity as Elks, Masons, Baptists or Methodists.”
If we are ever to become a liberated people this idea must be deeply
rooted in the day to day organizing and mobilizing of our people as
we seek economic and educational liberation. Far too many Africans in
America have abandoned this idea in their organizing project.
Garvey understood that the foundation of our liberation was economic
and educational independence based on racial solidarity. There are
numerous lessons we can learn from the legacy of the Honorable Marcus
Mosiah Garvey. Without economic independence tied to the acquisition
of political power, African people in America and African people
everywhere will continue to be the subjects of the whims of other
this regard, Garvey said, “...you can be educated in soul,
vision and feeling, as well as in mind. To see your enemy and know
him is a part of the complete education of man... Develop yours and
you become as great and full of knowledge as the other fellow without
entering the classrooms.”