Renewed call for Garvey pardon amplifies Jamaica’s initiative

Jamaica’s first national hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey
Marcus Garvey is shown in a military uniform as the ‘Provisional President of Africa during a parade up Lenox Avenue in Harlem, New York City, Aug. 1922, during opening day exercises of the annual Convention of the Negro Peoples of the World.
Associated Press, File

Jamaicans in the diaspora have relentlessly pursued clemency for Marcus Mosiah Garvey, a Pan-African advocate who was jailed and deported from the USA more than a century ago. Many have petitioned presidents to exonerate the Jamaican who declared a “One Aim. One Destiny” philosophy of unifying displaced Africans.

“Africa for the Africans” was his mantra.

With the election of the first Black president, their best hopes were dashed after two terms at the White House failed to entice President Barack Obama.

Some bargained on notice from his successor Donald Trump who believed would oblige because in some circles he was reputed the “pardon king.”

But that was not to be.

Now after one year in office, and Black History Month, hopes are hinged on Democrat Joe Biden to fulfill their wish.

Last week Jamaica’s Consular General, Alsion Wilson dispatched a letter asking nationals to engage in a revamped campaign.

“You can play a major part in making history this Black History Month,” she said.

“As you may know, the month of February is observed as Black History Month. This presents you with the opportunity to support a recently launched initiative with the objective of petitioning the President of the United States of America to grant a posthumous pardon to Jamaica’s first National Hero.”

She described Garvey’s incarceration on charges of fraud as “unjust prosecution and conviction in 1923.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity to join us as we support the Garvey family and the organizations supportive of their effort to seek #Justice4Garvey.”

Fueled by amplified calls on social media, the aim is to amass at least 100,000 signatures by March 1.

Film director and stuntman Roy Anderson supports the initiative.

He recently returned stateside after making a four-day trip to London, England in order to promote his docu-drama “African Redemption: The Life and Legacy of Marcus Garvey.”

His self-financed trip although unrelated to the campaign, coincides with the Black History Month initiative and also amplifies the legacy of Jamaica’s first national hero who he said has not gotten the full recognition he is due.

Born in Jamaica, Anderson is a descendant of Maroons. He shares the viewpoint that Garvey should be pardoned and on Feb. 5 invited British audiences to a premiere screening and question and answer session afterwards. Narrated by Emmy-winning actor Keith David, the 85-minute feature document chronicles Garvey’s rise from humble Jamaican beginnings to influence Harlem residents and ultimately making a global impact surpassing prominence.

Anderson contends: “Marcus Garvey is regarded as the world’s most influential Pan Africanist and foremost twentieth-century Civil-Rights leader. The charismatic Caribbean hero dedicated his life to the project of redeeming Africa. He endeared large audiences to listen to his eloquent addresses about racism, imperialism and Civil Rights.”

Reportedly, capacity crowds filled venues to hear him deliver addresses, among them the Royal Albert Hall in London and here at Madison Square Garden.

Garvey’s reputation is recorded as the single-most unifying Black man in America. That he spearheaded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) an organization with membership throughout the Caribbean, England, Central and South America and the United States during the Harlem Renaissance from 1918 – the 1930s, the film provides never-before-revealed details about Garvey’s activities working on the docks of Liverpool and Cardiff.

Memberships in the UNIA are recorded in ports of London, Manchester and Cardiff.

Filmed in Jamaica, England, Ghana, Canada, USA, and Central America, Anderson’s historic foray “blends live-action sequences and stunning still photographs with no-holds-barred interviews and conversations with world-renowned leaders, scholars, and personalities.”

Some of the influential personalities he engaged to verify the contribution of the immigrant ambassador include: David Hinds, lead singer of the British reggae band Steel Pulse, Grammy winning dancehall recorder Sean Paul, actors Louis Gossett, Jr. and Danny Glover and former Harlem Congressman Charles B. Rangel.

At the age of 52, Garvey died in West Kensington, London, England on June 10, 1940. His body was taken to Jamaica in 1964 and he was buried at National Heroes Park in Kingston.

Anderson’s docu-drama had its world premiere in the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago last September.

Jamaica and Canada were next in October 2021 as beneficiaries of early glimpses into Anderson’s lens.

The filmmaker greenlit free, television, screenings during a holiday weekend nationals on the Caribbean island were sanctioned to remain home by COVID-19 curfew restrictions.

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