In 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. We must free the “African mind” through
African Centered Educational activities so that we might better
understand the importance of economic self-reliance.
One model that we draw strength from in pursuing
economic and educational liberation is the model established
by the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the Universal Negro
Improvement Association (UNIA) in the 1920s. The 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.”
When 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.
This was one of the major problems that the Honorable
Marcus Mosiah Garvey addressed during his lifetime and that
Minister Louis Farrakhan continues to address.
As 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 dominion.”
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. Mr. 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
Central America, the Caribbean, and Africa.
In 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 General.
August 2, 1920, after a massive parade of thousands of well
drilled, uniformed ranks of the UNIA, 35,000 delegates from
all over 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.
Dr. 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 projects.
Mr. Garvey understood that the foundation of
our liberation is 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 people.
In 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.”
BlackCommentator.com Columnist, Conrad W. Worrill, PhD, is the National
Chairman of the National Black United Front (NBUF). Click
here to contact Dr. Worrill.