Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Monday, May 22, 2006

Amy Jacques Garvey

I have prided myself on my particular take on Pan-Africanism in that I did not ascribe to the male centered ideas of Nationalism that have befallen a number of black organizations. In terms of organizing, since my first awakening days I have been one who believes that anyone who can do the job best should do the job. In an organization I was involved with at Tuskegee we made a very conscious effort to have an equal number of men and women on our decision making body and held all members up to the same standards. In practice I am sure I and others fell short of our aspirations but overall we did not fall into those traps.

As a Pan-Africanist in the vein of Marcus Garvey had admittedly short changed the role that his second wife, Amy Jacques Garvey, played in the UNIA. This I believe was a consequence of the scholarship I had read up to that point as well as my own fixation on Marcus Garvey himself. Having recently named a Scholarship after Amy Jacques Garvey for the work that I know she had done, I made it a point to dig further into her life and have come away with an even greater appreciation of Amy Jacques Garvey. In fact the information that I have come into contact has prompted the change in the header of this blog.

I have long known that the two volumes of The Philosophies and Opinions of Marcus Garvey would not have been possible if not for the tireless work of Amy. I have also long known of her strong positions on the active roll of women in the Pan-Africanist struggle and her unapologetic critique of black men who shirked their responsibilities to family and race. I also knew of the monetary sacrifices she made in order to support Mr. Garvey who, although a brilliant man in terms of his ideas on a united Africa, was, in my opinion a very bad manager of people and was no where as appreciative of his wife. But even more profound to me, as far as I had not known, was how the refinement of Pan-Africanism, indeed much of what I have called "Neo-Garveyism" is or was in fact already formulated by Amy Jacques Garvey herself. Indeed I would have to say that it is particularly chauvinistic to say that Garvey's Ghost is merely that of Marcus but indeed is the collective ideas of Garvey and his wife.

What perhaps was most profound about Amy Garvey to me was the basic class suicide she committed. While she did at times trade on her "brown" status she could have easily, easily decided to quite the Pan-Africanism game when she had her children and Marcus all but abandoned her in Jamaica. In the end, it was Amy, who was able to represent Garveyism on the Motherland and to directly influence people like Kwame Nkrumah and Nnamdi Azikwe among others. It was she who reminded DuBois, after he came to his senses, that Pan-Africanism is a hands on, on the ground, about the people ideology rather than an intellectual endeavor.

It is too bad that Amy J was not given the place that she should have been given within the UNIA. Her organizational and interpersonal skills, which Garvey sorely lacked would have probably prevented the disastrous outcomes of the Black Star Line SteamShip Corporation. So much more could have been done had Amy J. been afforded her rightful place within the UNIA-ACL and there is much to be learned about the consequence of pushing women to the rear or the side on the way to a unified Africa.


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