Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey was a self-taught Jamaican social activist and black nationalist. He founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1914 and moved to Harlem in 1916, where he promoted black economic independence through his newspaper and businesses. His “Back to Africa” movement made him a lightning rod among black leaders and the FBI alike, and some historians have interpreted his conviction of mail fraud in 1922 as a politically motivated prosecution. He served two years of a four-year sentence in Atlanta before being deported to Jamaica in 1927. He later moved to London and died in 1940. (George Grantham Bain / Library of Congress)
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The Black Wall Street Times

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Marcus Garvey’s descendants are pressing President Joe Biden for a posthumous pardon, following the Biden administration’s commitment to promoting racial equity. Mr. Garvey was initially targeted by law enforcement for his work toward racial justice for all Black men, women, and children, and eventually convicted in 1923 of mail fraud. 

“President Biden has made statements in his inaugural address about the dream for justice not to be delayed any longer,” said Julius Garvey, 88, one of Mr. Garvey’s sons. “We will take him at his word.”

Julius Garvey went on to state that his father was the victim of “racial injustice more than 100 years ago. He committed no crime. What he was trying to do was elevate the status of African Americans and Africans across the world.”

Marcus Garvey’s son says his father was “someone whose only crime was to help his people.”

Mr. Garvey is best known for starting the “Back to Africa” movement, encouraging Black families to join in a self-governing all-Black nation, one in which racial equity was the norm. He founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association, which sought to uplift Black citizens across the globe.

An inspiration to Black leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, and Shirley Chisholm, Mr. Garvey also created the “Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World,” which sought to provide a Bill of Rights for Black men, women, and children.

Meanwhile, Mr. Garvey’s efforts caught the attention of the FBI, who sought to exile him due to fears surrounding his movement. Anthony Pierce, a Garvey family lawyer, said the agency targeted Marcus Garvey “because of political and social efforts.” 

Now citizens across the country stand in awe of Mr. Garvey’s accomplishments, a progressive standard during a time when civil rights for Black people were an afterthought. “President Biden has an understanding of what we as a people have gone through,” continued Julius Garvey.  “I think he owes something of his presidency to African Americans. It is time for this to be righted.”

Above all, Julius Garvey said he simply wants to see his father receive justice. Garvey said his father was “someone whose only crime was to help his people.”

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...

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