Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Black History Month - Marcus Garvey and Mary Seacole
What happens to the rooster can happen to the chicken too. (Mozambique, Zimbabwe)
1935 - Marcus Garvey wrote "First Message to the Negroes of the World From Atlanta Prison"
Only when I lived in Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana did I understand what Marcus Garvey achieved for Black people all over the world. In Ghana, Marcus was a hero, Nkrumah’s Pan-Africanist model and mentor. In Jamaica, the British rulers of the time led us to believe Marcus Garvey was a scamp and a thief.
This Black man who left school at fourteen, made the colonial powers nervous when he created the greatest mass movement for Black people, stretching from Latin America to Australia. It was no wonder that he attracted the attention of J Edgar Hoover, head of the United States general intelligence division.
Hoover, threatened by Marcus’ message of Black pride and dignity, tried to find ways to expel Marcus from the United States where he had set up his headquarters. Hoover wrote in a memo, “Unfortunately, however, he [Garvey] has not as yet violated any federal law whereby he could be proceeded against on the grounds of being an undesirable alien, from the point of view of deportation.”
Ultimately, Marcus was charged with mail fraud. His organization, the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was selling stock of the Black Star Line. It was alleged that the UNIA had not yet bought the ship that was shown in the stock brochure. Marcus’ followers saw this as a trumped-up charge, as the Black Star Line owned other ships, and was negotiating the sale of the disputed ship.
Marcus was tried and sentenced to five years in a Georgia prison. He started serving his sentence on February 8, 1925, and on February 10 he wrote a famous letter in which he stated:
Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm, look for me all around you, for, with God's grace, I shall come and bring with me countless millions of black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for Liberty, Freedom and Life.
2004 – Mary Seacole named the Greatest Black Briton
I was among the first students to live in Mary Seacole Hall, a hall of residence for
female students attending the University of the West Indies. Before that, my colonial education had featured Florence Nightingale, but not a whisper about this Jamaican woman who was also a nurse in the Crimean War.
Mary Seacole (1805-1991) learned tropical medicine from her mother who had a boarding house in Port Royal, Jamaica, where she nursed army officers and their wives. After Mary’s mother died, she took over the boarding house and her mother’s nursing practice. She later went to Panama where she also cared for the sick.
She traveled to Britain and offered to go to the Crimean war to treat wounded soldiers. When the authorities turned her down, she borrowed the money and went to Crimea by herself. During this war, she distinguished herself by treating soldiers from both sides while under fire on the battlefield. She dislocated her right thumb in one incident when she threw herself to the ground to avoid being blown up.
Mary Seacole succeeded despite the racism and sexism of her time. she was voted the most important person in Black British history in the 100 Great Black Britons award.
Both Mary Seacole and Marcus Garvey had global influence and became icons because
of their tremendous courage.
Also on this date in:
1927 - Leontyne Price was born
1937 - Roberta Flack was born
1966 - Andrew Brimmer is appointed by President Johnson to become the first African-American governor of the Federal Reserve Board.
1978 - Reggaeton artist Don Omar born William Omar Landrón Rivera in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
|When the occasion arises, there is a proverb to suit it. (Proverb from Rwanda and Burundi) |
Welcome to this space where we can talk about proverbs that we can relate to (or not), and proverbs that make sense to us (or not). Most of all we can discuss how proverbs make us think about life and living. We can also share experiences of proverbs that have provided us with lifelines or just the chance to reflect.
Some of the proverbs here may also be found in "Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs", published by Random House and authored by Askhari Johnson Hodari and me. The foreword is written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
One of the unique features of our book is that we arranged the proverbs according to life cycle, in sections including, Birth, Childhood, Love, Marriage, and Intimacy, Challenge, and Death.
For more proverbs and for information on Lifelines: the Black Book of Proverbs, please visit us at www.lifelinesproverbs.com.