WASHINGTON DC, December 7, 2021 - Yet another effort is being made to have the president of the United States grant a pardon for one of Jamaica’s National Heroes, The Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
This time, a global effort by ordinary citizens, scholars, community, and faith leaders will be undertaken to petition President Joe Biden to grant a posthumous pardon to the Honorable Marcus Garvey.
Garvey, they say, was targeted by the U.S. government and persecuted for his work to uphold racial justice for Black people in the African diaspora. Spearheaded by the Caribbean-American Political Action Committee (C-PAC), the first goal of this global effort is to gather the required 100,000 signatures necessary to elicit a response from the President. To do so, the signatures must be collected within a stipulated 30-day period.
“Our goal is to get at a minimum, twenty-thousand signatures from each of the five continents,” says Dr. Goulda Downer, C-PAC’s Chair. “We will ask President Biden to honor the voices of our global citizens and make amends for the 1923 unjust persecution and imprisonment of the Honorable Marcus Garvey.”
Marcus Garvey’s descendants believe that a Presidential pardon will acknowledge, and begin to right, the wrong committed against him, and by extension, the global community of African peoples.
Marcus Garvey’s son, 88 year old vascular surgeon Dr. Julius Garvey who lives in New York, said of his father: “he taught us to be proud of being Black and reminded us of the power and majesty of our African heritage. The case against Marcus Garvey was politically motivated and his imprisonment unjust.”
Dr. Garvey admitted that he was "disappointed" that former President Obama, the first African-American president, did not issue the pardon which would have corrected "the wrong which was committed" — the wrong being the conviction of his father on mail fraud charges.
He noted that the fact that Obama was African-American and has a keen awareness of the role of Dr Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey in civil rights matters had made the disappointment even "more hurtful".
Obama was the last in a long line of US presidents to have disappointed the pardon Garvey movement, which believes that the Jamaican hero’s name was falsely sullied by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In 2016, a move to secure 100,000 signatures to support the petition to have the national hero pardoned fell short and failed to get traction from the Justice Department or the Obama White House, despite support from US-born Jamaican congresswoman Yvette Clarke and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Speculations are that the matter of the pardon was raised by then Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller during Obama’s visit to Jamaica in 2015, but it was unclear what response, if any, Obama had made.
“President Biden has made statements in his inaugural address about the dream for justice not to be delayed any longer,” said Julius Garvey. “We will take him at his word. Racial injustice was done to my father more than 100 years ago. He committed no crime. What he was trying to do was elevate the status of African Americans and Africans across the world.”
February 2022, which is Black History month in the U.S., will be the apex of the effort. Focused marketing awareness will begin in late-November of 2021 and continue through to the end of January 2022.
This global exoneration effort aims to include individuals, groups, and organizations, within the continental geographic region. The expectation is to bring local, regional, and global awareness about the effort to collect the 100,000 signatures during February’s Black History month observance.
Marcus Garvey was an outstanding and influential civil rights and anti-colonial leader of the early twentieth century. His movement, which espoused Black pride and Black self-reliance, economic independence, and Black unity, garnered unprecedented support around the world. The impact of his legacy still reverberates globally today.
Garvey's fame and power during his lifetime attracted enemies in the white power establishment. One of the white people who felt threatened was J. Edgar Hoover. So, in the 1910s, Hoover and the FBI set out to take Garvey down. And eventually, they succeeded.
In May 1923, Garvey was unjustly convicted of mail fraud in relation to the operation of his signature program for Black economic independence, the Black Star Line. He was sent to prison and consequently, his global movement for racial and economic justice never again regained its previous level of momentum and growth.
A few years after Garvey was convicted, President Calvin Coolidge commuted his sentence on the condition that the government deport him back to his home country of Jamaica.
Garvey never returned to the U.S., dying in London in 1940. But the conviction against Marcus Garvey stands to this day. And for years, his family has been fighting for a posthumous pardon.
The coordinated, global effort is again seeking to obtain the needed 100,000 signatures, within thirty days starting on February 1, 2022, in support of the petition for a Presidential pardon for the Honorable Marcus Garvey.
The public is being encouraged to support this historic effort by:
1. Signing the petition; and
2.Sharing the petition with your family, friends, and your social and professional networks and encouraging them to do the same.
The exoneration committee’s Global Chair is Dr. Goulda Downer. Global Vice-Chairs are Dr. Ayize Sabater, Dr. Elaine Knight, Dr. Felicia Boadoo-Adada, Ms. Madia Logan and Mr. James Gordon.
Garvey was born on Aug. 17, 1887, in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. He studied law and philosophy at the University of London’s Birkbeck College. In 1914, after returning to Jamaica, he founded the UNIA.
Two years later, Garvey migrated to the United States. His speeches, highlighting Black beauty and advocating self-determination, were electrifying. Membership in the UNIA grew exponentially, and Garvey’s followers, who became known as “Garveyites,” pledged allegiance to the red, black and green Pan-African flag, designed by Garvey.
In 1919, Garvey founded the Negro World newspaper, whose contributors included Zora Neale Hurston, Arthur Schomburg, William H. Ferris and Norton G.G. Thomas. The paper was translated into Spanish and French and distributed worldwide, with front-page editorials by Garvey advocating for Black liberation from racial injustice.
The Negro World was banned by colonial powers in some of the African territories they occupied. According to the documentary “The Story of Marcus Garvey,” the Negro World was smuggled into British-occupied Kenya by Black seamen. The paper was read aloud, and children were instructed to memorize Garvey’s editorial. They then went into villages to recite Garvey’s message.