Garvey Smear Campaign Afoot?
Today I stumbled across an Article entitled Slain or Silenced which discusses a posiible murder plot involving Marcus Garvey and one Rev. James Walker Hood Eason.
"Eason Tells Police He's a Witness Against Marcus Garvey," reads a Jan. 2, 1923, headline in The Times-Picayune. In follow-up stories on Jan. 4 and 5, filed while Eason lingered at Charity Hospital, talking to police and reporters, the newspaper reported the link even more explicitly.
Eason "stated after the shooting that he is positive the assailants were sent to kill him in order to prevent his testifying against Marcus Garvey," the Jan. 4 story read. At the time, Garvey was under a federal indictment in New York on mail fraud charges related to fund raising with his movement, the Universal Negro Improvement Association.
the article makes for an interesting read and indeed any information that shedds more light on the UNIA is welcome by us here at Garvey's Ghost, but there were a few items written that were simply untrue or misleading so we wrote the following to the author and paper:
It was with great interest that I read your article entitled "Slain or Silenced". However I found that there were misleading or inncorrect information contained in the article and wish to provide a correction that I hope makes it's way into the paper.
"The flamboyant Garvey was in his day as powerful and high-profile as any African-American in the land. Convinced that black Americans would never achieve justice in the United States, he originated and led a "Back to Africa" campaign and, combining entrepreneurialism with political fervor, numbered among his many business interests a shipping line -- Black Star -- to transport his people back to their homeland."
"The two men became close friends and allies, and Eason's existing connections with educated, well-to-do African-Americans on the East Coast turned into a money bonanza for the UNIA and Garvey's Black Star Line, the vessels that would return black people to a new nation in their ancestral homeland."
The UNIA, Universal Negro Improvement Association, was not a simple "Back To Africa" Campaign aimed squarely at African Americans. It was an internation organization that Aimed to improve the conditions of "Negroes" all over the world including the Caribbean, South and Central America and Africa itself. Garvey never said that the purpose of his organization (The UNIA) or the Black Star Line Co. was to transport black people to their homeland. The Black Star Line inc. was in fact an corporation with the intent of carrying out international trade. In fact the SS Frederick Douglass, the First Ship of the Black Star Line inc. made a food delivery between islands in the Caribbean.
Garvey's own words on the intent of the UNIA can be found in his book "Philosphies and Opinions" where he states that he encourafed blacks in any country they found themselves to take advantage of every opportunity that they found there. He also believed that the status of blacks would be directly linked to the ability of Africa to be organized under a powerful and independent nation.
Clearly with this information you can understand how your statement is misleading the public as to the goals and aims of the UNIA and Marcus Garvey.
Sondjata K. Olatunji
Proprietor: Garvey's Ghost Weblog
Some other interesting claims made by the woman doing the investigating, Sitamon Youssef are:
"He told the U.S. attorney in New York he would testify, but that he had to honor a speaking commitment in New Orleans," Youssef said. "That's why he came down here, and that's where Garvey sent his assassins."
The chief hitman, according to Youssef's theory, was one Esau Ramus, whom Garvey gave $75, a train ticket to New Orleans and, Youssef said, orders that Eason not make it back to New York.
Ramus, along with two accomplices, attended a speech Eason made at the Second Baptist Church on First and Freret streets, and then shot him as he left, at about 10 p.m. The accomplices' names are in the record, identified in The Times-Picayune of Jan. 4.
The story said William Shakespeare, considered the "chief of police" of the United Negro Improvement Association, and Fred Dyer, a member of the "force," were arrested on Iberville Street and accused of shooting Eason.
The story -- and Garvey's possible connection to the shooting -- apparently ended there, until Youssef began sifting the record. Academic training made her want the truth, but Youssef said she has grown enormously impressed by Eason and believes that his memory deserves mention.
Hmmm..It's interesting that someone who was so down with the "movement" would then turn up on a givernment witness list. From what we know of the Garvey mail Fraud case a great many individuals had their hands out for UNIA money so it will be interesting to see how much Eason may have been in for. We do know that while the supposed 'money bonanza" happened Rev Eason was:
At one UNIA convention in New York City, Eason was elected the "leader of American Negroes," a ceremonial post that carried with it a diplomatic residence in Washington.
I'm sure he had little problem with the DC house payed on the "bonanza" money. But what is also interesting here is that though the "assasins" were arrested it appears so far that they had not been convicted of the crime. Why not? Clearly if the Government could show that the "assasins" had worked on the Behalf of the UNIA then the Government could have gone after that organization and shut it down. They did not. Or perhaps Eason could have been a backup case for the government in case it's incredibly feeble mail fraud case failed to ensnare Garvey.
Ultimately what bothered me most about the article was:
"He believed in the fatherhood of God, he was a good Christian and a patriotic American," she said.
So? Let me get this straight, we're discussing a Pan-Africanist who was a Christian himself and trying to rehabilitate Eason by claiming that he was a "A Ptriotic American?" Just what kind of Patriotic American was he when he was rolling with the UNIA? And if he was such a "Patriotic American" that makes me suspect that he was a plant, one of many.
Again, It will be interesting to see how this piays out. Anything that makes the record clear is welcome to me good or bad.