I believe one of the most influential African Americans of all time is Marcus Garvey. Marcus Garvey achieved accomplishments in not just one, but many areas. His accomplishments ranged from a worldwide Black political organization, The Untied Negro Improvement Association, to the first, and to this day the largest Black-owned multinational businesses, the Black Star Lines. Marcus was criticized by many of his fellow African American leaders because many of his projects failed. In despite of that, Marcus Garvey talent to attract followers towards his beliefs is inspiring.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born into a poor family on August 17, 1887 at St. Anns Bay, Jamaica. Marcus was born the youngest of 11 children. His father was a stonemason who supposedly descended from the maroons. Maroons are African American slaves who defended their freedom from British and Spanish invaders. Garvey had to itemize his pride in the unmixed African heritage of his parents. Marcus grew up and received little education in Jamaica, so he was largely self-taught. At age 14 Marcus had to find work in a print shop to help out his family. Marcus began to doubt the value of trade union after he was involved the first printers strike of 1907. Marcus Garvey began to complain about the mistreatment of African workers to British authorities and was appalled by the little response and that left him very skeptical about any hope for justice from the white people (Rogoff 72). In 1912 Marcus Garvey studies abroad in London. He began writing African publications and became an avid supporter of African independence. I believe the turning point in Marcus Garveys fight for African freedom and equality came after he read Booker T. Washingtons book, Up From Slavery. Garvey responded warmly to its thesis of black self help (Kranz, Koslow 86). With that notion in mind Marcus Garvey returned to Jamaica in 1914 ready to make a difference.
Marcus was not noticed for just one accomplishment is his lifetime, but many on them. When Marcus returned to Jamaica he got re-acquainted with a group of friends and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which sought, among other things, to work on black emigration to Africa. It also promoted racial pride, education, and black business activity. In Jamaica Garvey didnt attract the kind of following that he hope for so he moved his tactics to the United States in 1916. By 1919 the UNIA reached its peek with about 2,000,000 members and hundreds of branches worldwide. Marcus also founded the Negro Factories Corporation (NFC) which its purpose was to promote black economic independence by providing money and labor to black business owners. It also helped to build factories in the United States, Africa, Central America, and the West Indies. He also founded the first and, to this day, the largest black-owned multinational businesses, the Black Star Line (BSL), which focused on purchasing boats and serving an international shipping triangle that would return black people to their homeland of Africa. The shipping triangle revolved around the United States, West Indies, and Africa. Marcus Garvey not only founded companies or groups, but he also founded the Negro World in 1918, which was the leading black weekly and soon had 50,000 readers in the United States, Latin America, the West Indies, and Africa. Due to its content of black equality and freedom, the British and the French banned it from their African colonies. Even leaders who did not agree with Garveys ideas appreciated his efforts to build black pride and political independence (Kranz, Koslow 86).
All of Marcus Garveys accomplishments and failures had an effect on society. When it comes to the UNIA Marcus Garvey left an impact on society, which was felt immediately, and it is still felt today. By 1920, Garveys followers were in the thousands and the UNIA had become a major organization. Also in 1920 was the first convention for the UNIA. Several thousand representatives from the United states and all over the world elected Marcus Garvey as the president of the Republic of Africa. Historians later noted the impossibility of a West Indian being elected in the United States and the president of Africa (Kranz, Koslow 87). This