A Note on the Evolution of Garveyism

By Amy Jacques Garvey

    Garveyism is not only a theoretical philosophy but a working idealism, geared to the crying needs of an entire race, many millions of whom were dispersed by slavery to the United States of America, the West Indies, Europe, Canada and as far as, South America.

    The slave-masters and their kind used the most inhuman means to break the spirit of the blacks, thus reducing them to a state of frustration and dejection -- handy tools used to produce wealth for white people.

    The Africans, at home were exploited, oppressed and brutalized by the colonial powers through their administrators, traders and mercenary adventurers to produce the mineral and agricultural wealth of their continent, which was transported to Europe to build up their nations.

    In time chattel slavery was abolished, but these dejected and rejected people of the earth never had a unifying force, in fact they were propagandized into believing that they had no common cause.  The American Blacks from their sidewalk jungles called the Africans at home "heathen and uncivilized cannibals", and the West Indians were called "Monkey Chasers", living in trees.  The Africans called all the Western World blacks, ex-slaves  -- a term of contempt.  Each unit was taught to stigmatize the other.  The "divide and rule" methods wrought havoc in all their simple, undesigning minds.  Then came the awakening by Marcus Garvey -- "up Mighty Race!  We have to carve our our rightful heritage on this earth as God's children, worthy of our Creator."

    The philosophers of Europe, England & White America are the products of many sophisticated cultures, industrial and agricultural mechanized economies, politically disciplined people revering White Power.  Few of them were activists, much less Reformers; invariably they preferred to do revolutionary writing.  Their philosophies cannot be wholly applicable to Garveyism.  Because he based his findings and movement on the historical and current black experiences all over the globe.  He plumbed the depths of our oppression and degradation, and based them to the world.

    He gave to his people a new set of values in a world where race is the criterion of human standards, and the white race considered themselves superior men.   He gave black people new dimensions, new horizons that transcended national boundaries, languages and religions.  He lifted their spirits to the heights of true manhood and womanhood.  This is the only "African Mysticism" that some people wonder about.

    Garveyism has many facets, because African nationalism politically becomes Black Nationalism in the West Indies, and is a prestige affiliation to the black minority in America where it generates Black Power, which is the united actions of an oppressed and despised, desperate minority to confront White Power in the country of their birth.

    Garvey sought to revive the spirit of Black people from despair to hope, from lethargy to action, from fear to courage, from inertia to assertiveness, from anti-discrimination dodges to manly confrontation.  He gave them goals possible to man, the highest creation of God, because he believed with all his heart in the innate abilities of the Black Race.  BE PREPARED! he shouted, and the masses followed him, for he had awakened in them the real purpose of life -- "To live as men, or to die as men!"



Originally Published in
More Philosophy and Opinions: Volume 3 Previously Unpublished Papers
Edited by Amy Jacques Garvey and E.U. Essien-Udom

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Last revised: January 28, 2005