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The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.

If Spike Lee does the right thing in his new film and gives more than a passing nod to Malcolm X's roots, then Marcus Garvey will get his largest public exposure since the 1920s. Malcolm's father and mother were devout members of Garvey's organization, the Universal Negro Improvement Association.

The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey--the great race leader, who was born in Jamaica and came to the United States in 1916 -- places under one cover his pertinent and provocative ideas. Edited by his second wife, Amy Jacques-Garvey, this sixth reissue of the book is a patchwork collection of epigrams, speeches, newspaper articles, essays and gems of expression --"Africa for the Africans at home and abroad"--that made Garvey so quotable.

A complex, flamboyant Pan-Africanist, Garvey was a fiery orator, attracting 2 million to 4 million followers and sympathizers to his movement at its peak in 1922. In 1925, Garvey's steady political ascendancy was dashed when he was indicted for mail fraud. He served two years in the U.S. Penitentiary at Atlanta, was pardoned by President Calvin Coolidge in 1927 and deportted back to Jamaica. Garvey died of pneumonia in London in 1940. Fie was 53 years old at the time of his death.

The careful reader can glean much of Garvey's background and personality from his debates with W.E.B. DuBois and other detractors. The trajectory of Garvey's political thought was unpredictable. Nothing was more troubling than his disingenuous alliance with white supremacists. The book's introduction says Garvey's flirtation with white racists was opportunistic and part of his appeal to white America during his incarceration. It is also disturbing that he endorsed concepts such as fascism, colonization and imperialism, albeit from an African viewpoint. Nonetheless, Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president and an ardent Pan-Africanist, often said no book influenced him as much as the Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.

Herb Boyd

Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey edited by Amy Jacques-Garvey; Alheneum, New York, 1992, 448pp, $16
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Author:Boyd, Herb
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1992
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