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Polemics Of Marcus Garvey's Ideology

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For Marcus Mosiah Garvey his ministry was clear: the complete, total and never-ending redemption of the continent of Africa by the people of African ancestry at home and abroad. This was his strategic aim and objective. His “Back to Africa” and “Black is Beautiful” were consciousness building tools that hold relevance today though some scholars will argue that the time for literally “going back to Africa” has long gone.


But there is another school of thought that is relevant to day and that is that “Back to Africa” does not simply mean hopping onto a plane and visiting Africa. It means learning about Africa, embracing her culture and identifying with African history. That is something that Blacks in the Diaspora must do if, as the late great reggae superstar Bob Marley says they must, “liberate themselves from mental slavery.”


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I contend that an ideology is, at its most fundamental stage, simply a collection of ideas. The word ideology was coined by Count Destutt de Tracy in the late 18th century to define a "science of ideas." Thus, an ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision; as a way of looking at things in common sense with several philosophical tendencies. Ideologies therefore differ depending on socio-economic and political nuances and class relations in a society and the dominance (or lack of it) by one class over another (dominant ideology).


And while I’m at it let me try and define Garveyism so that this analysis can take on the significance that such an ideology deserves and exposes its essential lessons for 2007 and beyond. To more learned scholars on the subject and definition experts I readily admit my shortcomings but will try within the confines of this definition to set the stage for my discourse on Garveyism.

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The ideology of Garveyism is that detachment of Black Nationalism which takes its core values and source from the works, words and actions of The Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) and their founder Marcus Mosiah Garvey. The basic tenet of Graveyism is its laser-like focus on the complete, total and never-ending redemption of the continent of Africa by people of African ancestry, at home and abroad. It is rooted in one basic idea: "whatsoever things common to man that man has done, man can do". Therefore, according to Garveyism, Africans in the Diaspora must have an uncompromising and unwavering commitment to the universal improvement of the Black race since its redemption will restore Mother Africa to her former greatness.


But how did this potent mix of Black Nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and African patriotism become so enmeshed in this Black Liberation ideology that today is paid little attention by Black leaders in America and the Caribbean who believe that rabblerousing and posturing are the tools to advance the Black race? Let us revisit history for these answers.


In 1916 Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887-1940) brought his budding Black Nationalist organization, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) to Harlem. He had formed this organization two years before, in 1914, just as the big guns were booming and wholesale slaughter was taking place during the barbarism of the First World War in Europe.

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UNIA itself was born out of Garvey's experience with racism, discrimination, and injustice both in his homeland Jamaica, and in other parts of the world where he traveled, and where Blacks were always at the bottom rung of the social, political and economic ladder. But Garveyism, as his philosophy and principles are now known, remains today, in 2007, an ideology largely underutilized and to some extent shunned by those who would lead Blacks to their promised land - wherever that may be. Nonetheless, Garveyism is a most powerful weapon and preaches a Black revolutionary path to achieving Black liberation.


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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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