Roots | Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr.

IRIE™ Magazine | ROOTS - Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. ONH

Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. ONH

IRIE™ remembers Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. ONH (Aug. 17, 1887 – Jun. 10, 1940) the Jamaican-born political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator. He was the founder and first President-General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL, commonly known as UNIA). Ideologically a black nationalist and Pan-Africanist, his ideas came to be known as Garveyism. In 1919, Marcus Garvey established Black Star Line, a shipping company operated through Universal Negro Improvement Association to set up trade and commerce with Africans in North and South Americas with African nations and the Caribbean.

In January 1940, Marcus Garvey suffered a stroke which left him partially paralyzed. A second heart attack would take his life on June 10, 1940. In 1964, his remains were exhumed and taken to Jamaica. On Sunday, November 15, 1964, the Government of Jamaica declared Marcus Mosiah Garvey, ONH Jamaica’s first National Hero. The Government of Jamaica ceremoniously re-interred him at a shrine in the National Heroes Park where he was given Jamaica’s highest honor, The Order of National Hero (ONH).

Garvey’s birthplace, 32 Market Street, St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, has a marker signifying it as a site of importance in the nation’s history. His likeness is on the 20-dollar coin and 25-cent coin. Garvey’s recognition is probably most significant in Kingston, Jamaica.

In London, a blue plaque was placed outside the house where Garvey once resided at 53 Talgarth Road, Kensington, and a second blue plaque was placed outside 2 Beaumont Crescent, London, the offices of the UNIA where Marcus Garvey and UNIA members conducted their work. There’s also a small park named after him between North End Road & Hammersmith Road near Olympia, and a library in Tottenham.

Garvey References in Reggae Music

Reggae singer Fred Locks re-introduced the Black Star Line to a Jamaican audience with his 1976 hit ‘Black Star Liners’ (which has been called one of “the most important songs in reggae music of the 1970s”), portraying Garvey as a Moses-like prophet.

The 1977 reggae album by Culture, ‘Two Sevens Clash’, featured a song called ‘Black Starliner Must Come’. In 1978, The Regulars (later renamed to Reggae Regular) released the reggae song named ‘Black Star Liner’.

Black Slate on their album ‘Amigo’ recorded a song called ‘Freedom Time (Black Star Liner)’, with references to Marcus Garvey and “seven miles of Black Star Liner”.

‘Train to Zion’ by Linval Thompson (writer) and U Brown featured the lines: “Train to Zion is coming / Don’t want no one to miss it / It’s the Black Star Liner / It’s going to Zion…”

Did you know…The flag of Ghana adopted a black star as an homage to Black Star Line.