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Marcus Garvey: an Influential Figure in the Civil Rights Movement

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In the circumstances of most people, there comes a point when they must stand up to their government to bring about reform. Only after individuals take the appropriate measures for it to take place will progress be achieved. It has come to shed a light on a man that has been dubbed as one of the early pioneers of the Worldwide Civil Rights Movement: Marcus Mosiah Garvey. He has not only prevailed over circumstances as well as discrimination in order to establish a career of achievement but has also laid the foundation for many more leaders to rise and defend their community.

Bright-eyed and curious minded, Marcus Garvey was born on August 17, 1887, in the island of Jamaica. He was the child of a family far better of than any other Jamaican of his time. As a young boy, his first taste of racism came when a seemingly friend of Garvey’s, who was white, berated him and commanded for him to never speak to him again. Many people, including myself, may have faced a circumstance where someone you trust reveals their true colors. For Garvey, it was this exchange that opened his young eyes to the injustice. Although his family was intellectuals, there was no work available for them that suited their skill set all because of their skin color. The whole family, including the children, had to become laborers to support their family. Garvey had a passionate interest in books and therefore, ironically enough, dropped out of school to become a printer’s apprentice at the age of 14. Later in life he migrated to America where he faced more discrimination.

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Nevertheless, Garvey had more foreign aspirations, including the creation of black-owned companies and shipping lines around the world. He also called for the termination of Africa’s white colonial rule. Marcus Garvey championed economic independence, and in the end he called among black nationalism. He insisted that all blacks should return to their true native land of Africa. He established his Association for Universal Negro Improvement (UNIA) in 1914. UNIA, like the views of Booker T. Washington, whom Garvey admired, stressed racial pride and self-improvement. UNIA’s membership peeked in 1914 at approximately 2,000,000 people.

Marcus Garvey influenced many people and spoke of the innermost desires of many individuals. He led the largest black movement in all of history, even though he had to face several challenges to establish the transformation he envisioned successfully. He took a group of people who believed they had little place in society and put them together to give them confidence in their race. He is a perfect example of someone who has triumphed against social injustice.

Even though his heart stopped beating in 1940, his beliefs lived on to pave the foundation of many uprisings in the following decades. Additionally, he has formed the pathway for many other leaders to rise up for the black community. At a time when lynchings were still taking place, Garvey was a reformer who converted speeches into a black civil rights mass movement. Through the rise of independent states across Africa and the advent of the Civil rights movement in the United States, interest in Garvey’s philosophy would also be renewed in the 1960s. His black self-determination ideology had an impact on black leaders from Nelson Mandela to Jomo Kenyatta to Malcolm X. Marcus Garvey was named by Martin Luther King as the first man “to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny.”

To conclude, Marcus Garvey became a pillar of hope to his followers. Together with many others, it is with his influence that the black community, including myself, grew up under good laws under a free government that still is morphing itself for accommodation. The freedom that my ancestors didn’t get to experience, I was blessed to have, the equal opportunity my ancestors fought for, I was granted to have; the integration of ideas and opinions from different backgrounds and cultures that they dreamed for, I am living it right now. I pledge to understand this sweet pleasure of engaging in the golden light of equality and diversity for this purpose. With optimistic aspirations, I envision myself as a beacon of hope just like Garvey for those who have no expression, for those who have accepted themselves to be a dust in the wind. Although I am in programs that give a head-start to my leadership development, I won’t take for granted the opportunities Marcus Garvey and many others laid for me.

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