Marcus Garvey Biography

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Biography Part 4 - Life in the USA

Life in the USA

Marcus Garvey travelled to the USA in 1916 at the invitation of Booker T Washington, the head of the Tuskegee Institute but sadly Washington died in 1915, but Garvey did get to visit the Tuskegee institute. Garvey was hoping to embark on a lecture giving tour in order to raise the funds to found a similar institute in Jamaica. Marcus Garvey moved to New York where he took a job as a printer before embarking on a year long tour of 38 states, commencing on 9 May 1916 at St Mark's Church in-the-Bowery in New York. Upon his return to New York in May 1917 Garvey, along with 12 others, founded the first U.N.I.A. branch outside of Jamaica. Over time New York branch became the global headquarters for the movement.

July 2nd 1917 saw the outbreak of the East St. Louis riots, sparked off by the rumour that a white man was killed by a black man. Tensions reached breaking point in this Illinois community where racial friction had been steadily increasing. After one week of riots and targeted attacks hundreds of people had been killed, only nine of them being white skinned. At a meeting on 8 July Garvey condemned the riots, declaring them "one of the bloodiest outrages against mankind". It is said that the East St. Louis riots was the main catalyst for Marcus Garvey to focus his attentions away from the Caribbean and more towards the USA.


Marcus Garvey, through the UNIA, campaigned for black rights, including issues of racial discrimination, voting rights and lynching. However, unlike many other Black Rights organizations, the UNIA believed in racial segregation rather than integration. Garvey believed that black people and white people could never lived harmoniously and encouraged black people to strive to become successful independently of white dominated society. A natural extension of this ethos was the belief in "in the principle of Europe for the Europeans, and Asia for the Asiatics" and "Africa for the Africans at home and abroad".

Personal Life

On Christmas Day 1919 Garvey married Amy Ashwood whom he separated from in March 1920 and divorced in June 1922. He married his personal secretary, Amy Jacques in July 1922.

In April 1920 Marcus Garvey's father died.

Projects and businesses

Over the next few years Marcus Garvey, through the UNIA, embarked on many projects such as the Negro Factories Corporation, The Negro World newspaper and the Black Star Line.

Previous: Return to Jamaica and the Establishment of the U.N.I.A.
Next: Businesses Run by the U.N.I.A.

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Marcus Garvey Biography
Growing up in Jamaica
Travelling Through Central America and Europe
Return to Jamaica and Establishment of the U.N.I.A.
Life in the U.S.A.
Businesses Run by the U.N.I.A.
Assassination Attempt
The 1920 U.N.I.A. Conference
Trial and Imprisonment
Return to Jamaica and Establishment of the P.P.P.
Return to England
Marcus Garvey's Influence on Rastafarianism