Marcus Garvey was a Jamaican-born black nationalist who created a ‘Back to Africa’ movement in the United States. He was born on August 17, 1887, in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, and developed a passion for reading from his father’s library. He left school at 14 and became a printer’s apprentice, where he led a strike for higher wages.
He travelled extensively in Central and South America and London, where he witnessed the oppression of black people. In 1914, he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which aimed to unite and empower black people worldwide. He moved to Harlem, New York, in 1916, where he gained a large following for his speeches and his newspaper, Negro World.
He advocated for black pride, economic independence, and a return to Africa as the ancestral homeland of black people. He established businesses such as the Black Star Line and the Negro Factories Corporation to support his vision. However, he faced opposition from other black leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois and A. Philip Randolph, who criticized his separatist ideology and his poor management skills. In 1922, he was arrested for mail fraud related to the sale of stock in the Black Star Line and was sentenced to five years in prison.
He was deported to Jamaica in 1927 after serving part of his sentence. He continued his political activities in Jamaica and later moved to London in 1935, where he died on June 10, 1940.