As we prepare to celebrate the 132nd
birthday of Marcus Garvey on august 17th, let us begin to
review some of his ideas.
It is quite clear that African
people in America continue to be miseducated. This problem is
discussed in a variety of ways in conversations everyday in our
communities throughout America.
From time to time we should consult
the wisdom of those who have addressed this problem whom we may have
forgotten. One such person who addressed this problem is the
Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, when he presented his formula for
learning in his courses on African Philosophy in the 1930s. I think
it is only appropriate to review Mr. Garvey’s formula for
learning as we continue to build the Reparations Movement and seek
specific guideposts to our development as a people.
These lessons and guideposts in
learning can be found in Message to the People: The Course of African Philosophy, edited by Dr. Tony
Lesson 1: One must never
stop reading. Read everything that you can read, that is of standard
knowledge. Don’t waste time reading trashy literature. The idea
is that personal experience is not enough for a human to get all the
useful knowledge of life, because the individual life it too short,
so we must feed on the experience of others.
Lesson 2: Read history
incessantly until you master it. This means your own national
history, the history of the world, social history, industrial
history, and the history of the different sciences; but primarily,
the history of man. If you do not know what went on before you came
here and what is happening at the time you live, but away from you,
you will not know the world and will be ignorant of the world and
Lesson 3: To be able to read
intelligently, you must first be able to master the language of your
country. To do this, you must be well acquainted with its grammar and
the science of it. People judge you by your writing and your speech.
If you write badly and incorrectly they become prejudiced towards
your intelligence, and if you speak badly and incorrectly, those who
hear you become disgusted and will not pay much attention to you, but
in their hearts laugh after you.
Lesson 4: A leader who is to
teach men and present any fact of truth to man must first be taught
in his subject.
Lesson 5: Never write or
speak on a subject you know nothing about, for there is always
somebody who knows that particular subject to laugh at you or to ask
you embarrassing questions that may make others laugh at you.
Lesson 6: You should read
four hours a day. The best time to read is in the evening after you
have retired from your work and after you have rested and before
sleeping hours, but do so before morning, so that during your
sleeping hours what you read may become subconscious, that is to say,
planted in your memory.
Lesson 7: Never keep the
constant company of anybody who doesn’t know as much as you or
(is) as educated as you, and from whom you cannot learn something
from or reciprocate your learning.
Lesson 8: Continue always in
the application of the things you desire educationally, culturally,
or otherwise, and never give up until you reach your objective.
Lesson 9: Try never to repeat
yourself in any one discourse in saying the same thing over and over
again except when you are making new points, because repetition is
tiresome and it annoys those who hear the repetition.
Lesson 10: Knowledge is
power. When you know a thing and can hold your ground on that thing
and win over your opponents on that thing, those who hear you learn
to have confidence in you and will trust your ability.
Lesson 11: In reading books
written by white authors, of whatever kind, be aware of the fact that
they are not written for your particular benefit of your race. They
always write from their own point of view and only in the interest of
their own race.
Garvey had many other lessons of
learning, in his formula that journalistic constraints will not allow
me to elaborate at this time. However, I encourage you to read Marcus
Garvey, Message to the People, The Course of African
Philosophy, and as we celebrate begin to internalize and
incorporate these “Lessons In Learning.”