By Shaka Barak, President,
The Marcus Garvey Institute

Dear Members and Friends of the Marcus Garvey Institute

   This is written in response to the article written in the Sun Times Newspaper, dated October 1, 2012, on page 21, by Neil Steinberg, titled “So where has Farrakhan led his Nation? I felt that while Minister Farrakhan is capable of responding to these almost comical scribbling, by Steinberg, however the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey (b. August 17, 1887 and d. June 10, 1940)  is not here to defend himself. Fortunately, dozens of scholarly works have refuted misrepresentations of Marcus Garvey’s life, like Steinberg’s brand, for decades. Let these few words of mine suffice for now, to show that he has come far too late because millions of African Americans regard Marcus Garvey as one of our greatest leaders. Even though we admire Marcus Garvey, we do not believe he would want us to react to this attack against our whole race by Steinberg as the Muslim world has reacted to the film criticizing Prophet Muhammad. It is clear that the objective of Steinberg is to first make us laugh at the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, rather than see him as one of the greatest leaders the world has known. It does not matter to him, that he is the founder, and first President General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and African Communities League, founded in July 20, 1914, in Jamaica, Caribbean. Steinberg has no regard for the fact that Marcus Garvey is loved by millions, because he knows that presently our race is too weak organizationally, economically, and politically to resist either internal or external assaults against our race similarly to Muslims world-wide that are protesting the film, “Innocence of Muslims.” Africans “at home and abroad” fought with our blood, and tears to obtain, and preserve the right of freedom of speech, and regardless as to how foul we view an attack against us, we will not deny that right to any man. Marcus Garvey taught us that, “If others laugh at you, return the laughter to them.”

Steinberg wrote, “Garvey gained supporters.” What he hasn't written is that when Marcus Garvey held the First International Convention, which was in essence a plebe site, that opened in the old Madison Square Gardens, in 1920, in New York, 25,000 Africans and people of African descent, were in attendance from over 40 countries. For the same reason, neither will Steinberg, point out that before Marcus Garvey died June 10th 1940, 11,000,000 had joined, and “supported” Marcus Garvey. Marcus Garvey led the first and largest mass movement of African Americans. He did this under the motto One God, One Aim, One Destiny.

Amidst the many issues that we would normally see as worthy of a rebuttal in Steinberg’s article, time, nor space would allow us to do justice to this subject because the greatness of Marcus Garvey, and his achievements, can’t be completely  discussed nor by some feeble attempt such as Steinberg’s, could Marcus Garvey's life and works be torn down.  Instead let’s search through Steinberg's article for scattered tid bits of positive facts that are worth highlighting. Steinberg wrote, "like Farrakhan, he preached a gospel of dignity...” Mr. Steinberg got that part of history correct. According to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while in Jamaica and laying a reef on the Shrine of Marcus Garvey, he said that Marcus Garvey was the first man on a mass scale to teach the Negro a sense of “somebodiness.”

Steinberg writes, “Garvey, if you are unfamiliar with him...” Steinberg fails to understand that African Americans are not as ignorant as Steinberg would like to believe us to be. In fact it is because more African Americans are familiar with Garvey, his call for independent African nations, his red, black and green flag, his status as Jamaica's first national hero, and his many contributions to our racial history, that our familiarity is tantamount to love, and adoration that makes us treat Steinberg’s criticisms as bunk.  Is Steinberg joking or does he think that all the people can be fooled all the time?

Steinberg writes, “The U.S. Justice Department had brought Garvey up on flimsy charges of mail fraud.” Lets take it a little further than Steinberg, because J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI investigated Marcus Garvey, and when he couldn’t find anything wrong with Marcus Garvey's operations, they then spent millions to infiltrate, and undermine his leadership. This lead to Marcus Garvey being persecuted, harassed, shot, framed, arrested,  indicted,  tried, convicted, sentenced, imprisoned, and deported. What Steinberg calls, “bringing him “up on flimsy charges” unwittingly helps us make the argument that Marcus Garvey ought to be exonerated of all criminal charges.
Steinberg in mentioning Marcus Garvey's businesses, that brought about employment for thousands, throughout the world, wrote, He, “established all sorts of...”businesses. Garvey's aim, with a high probability was, “To conduct a world-wide commercial and industrial intercourse for the good of the Negro people. Let’s name a few UNIA businesses that were set up in Harlem, New York, where the UNIA headquarters was. These came under the  Negro Factories Corporation, and included three grocery stores; two restaurants; a hotel; a school; men and women clothing manufacturing departments; a laundry; a Newspaper that was one of the most widely circulated  papers in America; and a Printing Press. Steinberg really misses the mark when he acknowledges “the Black Star Line, (BSL) a flotilla of ships....” Marcus Garvey's Black Star Line, was incorporated June 27, 1919, and soon had  35, 000 stock holders, who supported Marcus Garvey's effort to win its share of the marine business of the world, and enter in the lane of international traffic that had been dominated by whites.
Steinberg seeks to use William Ferris good name, who although he started out skeptical of Marcus Garvey, Ferris later became one of Garvey's greatest supporters.  James Weldon Johnson was very much a part of that era, but we derive more appreciation for him when he makes us aware of how significant Marcus Garvey was to his race when he wrote, about how “People were lined up outside of Marcus Garvey's office on 135th street in lines a hundred yards long, to join the UNIA, to buy stock in the Black Star Line, or Negro Factories Corporation, seek employment or to just to shake Marcus Garvey's hand.

Although Marcus Garvey, never proposed, “go back to Africa and fight the white world,” he was bold enough to tell Mussolini and other European heads of state whose countries were colonizing Africa to get out of Africa.  Marcus Garvey planned to combine, chemical, electrical and steel production to build docks, hospital, sanitariums, bridges, tunnels, railroads and universities, in Africa. There were only two independent nations on the continent of Africa, during Garvey's time but today there are 54, due in many cases to Garveyism in Africa. Thomas Hodkins author of Nationalism in Colonial Africa (1956) describes Garvey's movement in Africa as “probably the most important single outside stimulus... As the elected President General Marcus Garvey was, carrying out the demands of the 1920 international conventions document “The Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World, that reads, Be it known to all men that whereas, all men are created equal and entitled to the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and because of this, we, the duly elected representatives of the Negro peoples of the world, invoking the aid of the just and Almighty God do declare all men women and children of our blood throughout the world free citizens, and do claim them as free citizens of Africa, the Motherland of all Negroes.” The scholar W.E. B. Du Boise,  who Steinberg allegedly quoted attacking Marcus Garvey, ironically after years of fighting for justice in America, finally left America, and established his home in Ghana, West Africa, regretting that he ever attacked Marcus Garvey.

Finally, we will not be tricked by Steinberg into attacking those of African descent who did not support Marcus Garvey. As a Christian, and Godly man Marcus Mosiah Garvey would have forgiven Robert Abbott,  Du Boise, James Johnson,  Judge Julian Mack, who should have been retired as the trial Judge because of his affiliation with a rival organization to Marcus Garvey's UNIA), and Neil Steinberg. Like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Marcus Garvey loved all humanity, white, black, yellow, brown, Hebrew, and Muslim. He especially loved his own race, and calculated in advance that to improve them through the principles of self-help and self-reliance; he would have to suffer for them, similarly to other reformers. He knew that after less than 60 years of the signing by President Lincoln of the Emancipation Proclamation (1863), and seeing African Americans struggle for civil, and human rights strangled by Jim Crow-America, and Colonialism in Africa, he would have to face powerful forces, that wanted to keep Blacks in servitude at home, and abroad.

Likewise, today we say to the world, that if 10,000 Steinberg’s were to surface, and use every form of media, internet, newspapers, radio, and TV to try and do harm to the legacy of Marcus Garvey, that effort would have to penetrate every corner of the Universe because Garvey's message of political, economic, spiritual, educational, and social freedom was carried to every corner of the world. His ideas of freedom, charity, mercy, and love for his race will never be forgotten no matter how hard Steinberg’s try to make us feel we should not honor Marcus Garvey.



Steinberg: So where has Farrakhan led his Nation? BY NEIL STEINBERG September 30, 2012 3:48PM “Whoever leads the Na…

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  • West

    I know that Marcus Garvey was one of the greatest spokesman black people ever had and i think we should worry less about what steinberg said and more about what we are going to do to carry on the legacy of what garvey stood for.

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