A MEMORIAL ON THE OCCASION OF LADY DAVIS’ 148TH EARTHDAY
10:00AM Prayer Service at National Harmony Memorial Park
1:00PM Program at Brown Memorial Church
5:00PM Rally at UNIA Liberty Hall
Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis
Shakespearean Actor, Elocutionist, Dramatic Reader, UNIA International Organizer, Black Star Line Vice President
Henrietta Vinton Davis born August 25, 1860 Baltimore, Maryland, joined the ancestors on November 23, 1941 in Washington, DC.
An only child, her father, Mansfield Vinton Davis was a musician who passed away when she was very young. Her mother Mary Ann Davis married influential Baltimorean George Alexander Hackett. Hackett passed away when Davis was 9 years old. She and her mother then moved to Washington, DC.
Davis schooled in Washington until the age of 15. She became a schoolteacher in Maryland. Eventually, she went to work at the DC Recorder of Deeds in 1878 before Frederick Douglass.
Proclamation for Henrietta Vinton Davis Day
Her desire for a theatrical career inspired her to study under Miss Marguerite E. Saxton. April 25, 1883 Miss Davis was introduced in her debut as an actor by Frederick Douglass. For over thirty-five years she was the premier African-American woman of the stage performing “Shakespearean Delineations”, original plays and dramatic readings throughout the USA, Caribbean and Central America.
In 1919 her career took a dramatic turn when Lady Davis joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League headed by Marcus Garvey. Initially chosen as International Organizer, she eventually held positions as Assistant President-General and Vice-President of the Black Star Line. On the maiden voyage Black Star Line flagship SS Frederick Douglass, she was the ranking member of the UNIA and the Black Star Line as it carried its cargo worth upwards of $5,000,000.
Proclamation by Mayor Sheila Dixon designating August 25, 2009 “Henrietta Vinton Davis Day” in Baltimore, Maryland
After leaving Jamaica where she continued supporting Garvey, she returned to the USA in 1938. There she joined the UNIA, Inc. headquartered in NY city. After some time she was elected President-General of that group.
At the age of eighty-one she joined the ancestors. Having been divorced, without children of her own and livicating her life to bettering the condition of her people, she was buried in Harmony Cemetery in Washington, D.C. without a marker for her grave.
WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH: THE LYNCHING OF AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN
By Marilyn Kai Jewett
Many of us who are students of history know about the thousands of Black men who were lynched in this nation. However, most don’t know about the many African American women who were also lynched. Last year, I came across a website dedicated to Henrietta Vinton Davis, a prominent and fearless leader in Marcus Garveys’ Universal
Laura Nelson is the only woman of whom a photograph is known to exist who was lynched in America.
Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). The website included a listing of documented cases of African American women who had been lynched between 1870 and 1957. The website provides documented information on these women – their names, dates, places, the reason they were lynched and with whom they were lynched. Reading this made me angry and brought tears to my eyes. Reading the details of these lynchings is hard and painful, but necessary for those who want to know the truth. This is part of our history — Amerikkkan history – world history — that must be taught to our children and grandchildren. They will not learn this in school. It’s up to us to teach them the true history of the U.S. that proclaims that it’s “one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.” Right.
These “women,” many of whom were children, were not just lynched — they were raped and tortured before being hung, shot or burned by mobs of white men. Now days, African Americans ostracize Black people who are Republican. However, the first three women on the list – Mrs. John Simes lynched in 1870 in Henry County, Kentucky and Mrs. Hawkins and her daughter, lynched in 1872 in Fayette County, Kentucky, were all murdered for being Republicans!
Many of these women were lynched for standing up for themselves and their families. If their husband or son was accused of a crime and couldn’t be found, the females in the family were lynched. Entire families, including the children were lynched together. Some were lynched merely because they were Black. Others were lynched because they dared to have a dispute with a white person.
Hannah Kearse was lynched in 1895 in Colleton, South Carolina with her mother and son for supposedly stealing a bible. Jennie McCall was lynched in 1903 in Hamilton, Florida by mistake! Mercy Hall was lynched in 1922 in Oklahoma City for strike activity. Eliza Bryant was lynched May 25, 1926 in Duplin, North Carolina for having the nerve to be successful. The last sister on the list, Mrs. Frank Clay, was lynched November 18, 1957 in Henderson, North Carolina for having a dispute with a white person. I was 3 years-old in 1957.
I’m sure most people don’t know about these women, but we must never forget women like pregnant Mary Turner who was lynched May 17, 1918 in Brooks County, Georgia to teach her a lesson. After her husband was lynched, Mary threatened to have those who lynched him arrested. She fled, but the mob pursued her and found her the next morning. She was eight months pregnant when the mob of several hundred took her to a stream, tied her ankles together and hung her from a tree upside down. She was doused with gasoline and set on fire. One of the mob took a knife and split open her womb so that her unborn baby fell to the ground. The baby’s head was then crushed under the heels of her murderers. But, that wasn’t enough for the demonic mob. They finished Mary off by riddling her body with bullets – to teach her a lesson.
Flyer for the 2015 Sacred Libation Ceremony
Seventeen year-old Marie Scott was lynched on March 31, 1914 in Wagoner County, Oklahoma by a white mob of at least a dozen males. Two drunken white men had broken into her house as she was dressing and raped her. Her brother heard her screams for help, kicked down the door, killed one assailant and fled. Unable to find her brother, the mob lynched Marie. After she was arrested, the mob took Marie from jail, threw a rope over her head as she screamed and hung her from a telephone pole.
Sisters Alma, 16 and Maggie Howze (House) 20, were both pregnant by Dr. E. L. Johnston, a married, white dentist who used them both as his sex slaves, when beaten and hung in 1918 from a bridge near Shutaba, Mississippi for allegedly killing him. Alma was close to giving birth when lynched. Eyewitnesses at her burial said that that the movements of her unborn baby could be detected.
Laura Nelson was accused of murdering a sheriff who had supposedly discovered stolen goods in her house. She was lynched with her 15 year-old son in 1911 in Okemah, Oklahoma. Laura and her son were taken from jail, dragged six miles to the Canadian River, where she was raped by the mob before she and her son were hung from a bridge.
Ann Barksdale (Ann Bostwick) was lynched in Pinehurst, Georgia on June 24, 1912 for supposedly killing her white, female employer. There was no trial and no statement was taken from Ann who authorities claimed had mental issues and should have been placed in a hospital. The mob was in a festive mood when they placed her in a car with a rope around her neck and the other end tied to a tree limb. Her murderers drove at a high speed until she was strangled to death. To make sure she was dead, the mob shot her eyes out and riddled her body with so many bullets that she was “cut in two.”
These lynchings are a part of the “African Holocaust – the Maafa” that some folks, including some Negroes, want us to forget. The Maafa included the Middle Passage, 300+ years of chattel slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow/De Facto segregation and continues to this day. Some of those people – African American and white — who witnessed these lynchings as children are still around.
The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them. — Ida B. Wells
These African American women, men and children were lynched with the cooperation of local law enforcement – many of whom were leaders of the local Ku Klux Klan. However, there’s a different kind of lynch mob in 21st Century Amerikkka. People of African descent are still being lynched by those who uphold this tainted, blood-stained system – the police, the courts, politicians who make the laws and yes, the media. So when you speak of the modern day lynchings of Brandon Tate-Brown, Phil Africa, Michael Brown, Troy Davis, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant and the countless men of African descent whose lives were unlawfully taken by police and the judicial system, remember our sisters who were brutally lynched by the mob.
Once again, I am asking all spiritually-conscious women and men of African descent to join me 3:00PM, Sunday, March 29 at Congo (Washington) Square, 7th & Walnut Streets in Philadelphia for the Second Annual Sacred Libation Ceremony in remembrance of our departed sisters. Although we are doing this in Philly, the ancestors want to be remembered with sacred libation ceremonies throughout the nation. We must never forget these women – our sisters, our ancestors — who were brutally tortured and murdered. NEVER AGAIN!
Amy Jacques Garvey, ”New York Jews Raise Over Six Million Dollars – What of Negroes?” Originally published in The Negro World, 5 June 1926.
The United Jewish campaign to raise $6,000,000 in Greater New York alone for the relief of Jews of Eastern Europe ended a few days ago. The amount was over-subscribed by $656,000. The national campaign aims to raise twenty-five million dollars, and from all indications this amount will also be over-subscribed.
The Bureau of Jewish Social Research estimates that there are only 3,600,00 0 Jews in this country, yet their ambition is to raise the enormous sum of twenty-five million dollars; not for their own benefit here, but to send to Europe to help their fellow-Jews who are in need. Such an example of racial love can not be too highly commended, as we ponder over the fellowship of these people, our thoughts return to our own race; but ah, how different it is with us. Fifteen million Negroes in America and what genius could get them to subscribe one dollar each for any laudable purpose that would benefit them here? As for sending money abroad to benefit Negroes in other countries, why almost every Negro newspaper would raise a storm of protest, and petty Negro politicians would shed greedy tears at the idea of American dollars going to help “foreign” Negroes. “Let them help themselves,” some of us would growl, “and if they can’t, that’s their hard luck.”
This accursed selfishness of the Negro has been his undoing, and until the Universal Negro Improvement Association has reached the heart of each and every one, he will continue to think of national boundaries and ignore racial ties.
Before Marcus Garvey gave birth to his great idea of a united Negro race — excepting none whether they be one per cent. or one hundred per cent.–West Indian Negroes were regarded by us as monkeys, and both groups regarded the African Negro as a maneater, thus unknowingly succumbing to the white man’s propaganda, and carrying out his policy of divide and rule. But Marcus Garvey showed them the folly of their way; he congregated thousands from different parts of the world in international conventions, where they heard each other’s tales of woe, compared notes, looked into each other’s eyes and felt the kinship of blood, and realized that all Negroes were brothers and their destiny was one. Now the Universal Negro Improvement Association can proudly boast of millions of members, whose concern is not where you were born, but are you a Negro.
This organization has a drive on for one million new members and one million dollars, to carry on its work of Negro uplift and African redemption, and we sincerely hope that the Jews will not put us to shame; but that in proportion to our meagre earnings we will oversubscribe the amount, which is a small amount indeed for the great work planned by our leader.
Jewish women have played an important part in making their campaign a success, and it is up to Negro women to rally to the call and round up the recruits and the dollars. One Jewish woman alone collected $161,200. Surely Negro women who have collected moneys to build so many churches, will now turn their attention to nation building, and thereby ensure the future for posterity.
This money must be raised and raised quickly. Extending the campaign over long indefinite periods will not help. A few hundred thousand dollars in the treasury of the organization could accomplish much along all lines, but small amounts coming in spasmodically cannot be used to advantage. Women! This is your opportunity to make your contribution to the race. Let the world know that Negroes can and will support their own cause and protect their brothers anywhere and everywhere.
This article tells the journey of three men: their discovery of “The Shero of Our Story,” the lack of a marker on her grave, and the founding of the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation to rectify that historical oversight.
JULY 20, 2013 is HENRIETTA VINTON DAVIS GRAVE MARKER UNVEILING
-Events to recognize cultural icon-
Washington, DC –Today the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation (HVDMF) announced plans to unveil a marker at the grave of its namesake in National Harmony Memorial Park. The Foundation has as its mission to raise awareness of the life and legacy of Shakespearean actor, elocutionist, dramatic reader and activist Henrietta Vinton Davis.
Miss Davis remained relatively unrecognized until July 1983 when an article entitled “Henrietta Vinton Davis and the Garvey Movement” by Professor William Seraile was published in the journal ‘Afro-Americans in New York Life and History’. Nearly a year later, acknowledgment of her contributions increased with the publication of the book ‘Shakespeare in Sable’ written by Professor Errol Hill of Dartmouth University. Her home in Northeast Washington, DC has been listed on Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail since 1999.
On Saturday July 20, 2013 the HVDMF starts the day off with an award presentation and celebration at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, culminating with the unveiling of a marker at Miss Davis’ grave site at National Harmony Memorial Park. Guest speakers and celebrants include:
Dr. William Seraile (Bruce Grit), Barbara Eklof (For Every Season), Kevin Grace (Friends of Joe Gans), Nnamdi Azikiwe (Vinton Davis Weblog) and Mwariama Kamau (UNIA). Producing partners for the occasion are Vaunita Goodman (MTPC) and Michon Boston (Iola’s Letter). Clayton LeBouef (Something The Lord Made, The Wire, Homicide) will serve as Master of Ceremonies.
In 2008, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty issued a proclamation designating August 25 ‘Henrietta Vinton Davis Day.’ The decree acknowledged Davis as the first African American to work at the DC Recorder of Deeds office beginning in 1878, before Frederick Douglass was appointed Recorder. She made her career debut as a Shakespearean actor, elocutionist and dramatic reader in Washington, DC on April 25, 1883 where she was introduced by Douglass, a family friend. The proclamation acknowledges the success of Miss Davis as a public speaker and cultural icon.
Celebration / Award Presentation recognizing Vera J. Katz, (Professor Emerita Howard University Theatre Arts) and others will be conducted in the A-5 Auditorium 11am-1:30-pm at the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Library 901 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 727-0321
Livication / Henrietta Vinton Davis Marker Unveiling will be conducted 3pm-5pm at her grave site in National Harmony Memorial Park 7101 Sheriff Road Largo, MD (301) 772-0900
Events are free and open to the public.
About Henrietta Vinton Davis
For thirty-five years after her debut performing “Shakespearean delineations”, original plays and dramatic readings with her own performing company, and local troupes throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean, Henrietta Vinton Davis broke new ground as a successful theatrical artisan. Her commitment to her craft gained her recognition as the first African American “woman of the stage.”
During 1919, a year notable for its “Red Summer,” she joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League headed by Marcus Garvey.
As a leader of the African Redemption Movement, Davis made use of her acting skills to promote the aims and objectives of the UNIA. Her ability to “transport her listeners” to another place with her oratorical skills played a key role in both attracting members to the organization and promoting the Black Star Line Shipping Company. As such, she was elected to numerous positions including International Organizer, and Third Assistant President General of the UNIA. Additionally, as Vice President and a Director of the Black Star Line, Davis was the de facto authority aboard the Black Star Line’s flagship vessel, the S.S. Yarmouth, on its maiden voyage. The ship was laden with a cargo worth upwards of $5.000.000 destined for the Caribbean. On the ship’s return Marcus Garvey proclaimed Miss Davis “the greatest woman of the [African] race today” in a meeting at the UNIA’s Liberty Hall.
About The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation
Initially organized to raise funds for a marker at the grave of Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis
in 2005, the mission of The Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation has evolved to include publishing books, producing plays, films/videos and conducting symposiums educating the general public about her life and the times in which she lived.
A scene from the play Christophe by William Edgar Easton
Over three thousand persons, members and friends of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, assembled at the Palace Casino, 135th street and Madison Avenue, New York City, Sunday evening, June 15, to greet Mr. Marcus Garvey, president-general and International Organizer of the association, who has just returned to the city after an extended lecture in Michigan, Virginia and Canada.
Mr. Edgar M. Grey, general secretary of the association, called the meeting to order a few minutes after nine o’clock, by the singing of the opening hymn, “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains.” After a few brief remarks by the chairman, a musical program consisting of one violin solo by Master William Wilkinson, and a piano solo by Miss Irene Callender was rendered. Mr. George Tobias, treasurer of the association, was next presented to the audience and surprised his hearers and friends by revealing unsuspected talent as a reader, when he gave an impressive rendition of Wendell Phillips’ great oration on Toussaint L’Ouverture.
The next speaker introduced was Miss Henrietta Vinton Davis, the popular and talented elocutionist ofWashington, D.C., who, as a tribute to the children who had so splendidly entertained for the evening, recited a poem entitled “Little Brown Baby with Sparkling Eyes,” written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, poet laureate of the Negro Race.
In order to make the recitation as realistic as possible, Miss Davis used for the occasion a large colored doll manufactured by Berry & Ross, who had very kindly loaned it for the occasion. At the end of the recitation Miss Davis made a stirring appeal for support for the factory that was doing so much to inculcate a spirit of race pride in the Negro race.
Following this the chairman asked for a silver collection, which was heartily and liberally responded to. Taking as his theme, the subject of race pride, the chairman then made a few short and cryptic remarks in which he pointed out that the principal concern of the race was not so much in finding out how to die but in learning how to live.
At the close of his address the chairman then introduced as the next speaker the person whose commanding personality was responsible for the vast assemblage that evening, Mr. Marcus Garvey. Mr. Garvey began his address by thanking all those who had supported the officers of the association, while he was absent touring the West, Canada and the South. He then told how efforts were being made by enemies of the association to discredit both himself and the organization. He specifically named Mr. William Bridges, editor of the “Challenge Magazine,” and a well known stepladder orator on Lenox avenue, as having assailed him in many ways while he was away. On his return to the city he had taken up the gauntlet and challenged the editor of the “Challenge” to meet him in open debate, which Mr. Bridges at first declined, but under pressure of public opinion was compelled to accept. Mr. Garvey then outlined the debate which had taken place the night before at the corner of 138th street and Lenox avenue, and which he assured his audience resulted in the complete and inglorious defeat of his opponent. The speaker also told of the plots engineered against himself and the organization by a cabal of envious and malicious individuals, who being incapable of thinking internationally, were doing everything of an underhand nature to wreck the organization; but inasmuch as the organization had firmly established itself in a majority of the States of the Union, the islands of West Indies, several republics of South and Central America and on the west coast of Africa, it was next to impossible for any group of men or any government to entirely destroy it. He was there that evening, he said, for the purpose of defending himself and the organization, and to give a detailed explanation of the feasibility of the Black Star Line project.
He then roused his audience to the highest pitch of enthusiasm when he recited to them the prowess of the Black race and how it was possible for the scattered millions of Negroes all over the world to accomplish the liberation of Africa by supporting the plans of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. Dramatically striking his chest, Mr. Garvey convincingly assured his hearers that all cowardice had departed from his anatomy, “for,” he said, “if I could have died on the field of Flanders of France in the white man’s cause, I can die in America fighting for myself and my race.” At this a storm of applause rent the building. Men and women rose to their feet and handkerchiefs were waved over head as every individual vied with his neighbor to show that the orator had transmitted the spirit of courage from himself to the entire audience.
After scathingly condemning those who were opposing the organization as “white men’s niggers” and cowards, the speaker told of the great work that was being done by the Newport News branch, which had pledged itself to subscribe $100,000 for the purpose of making the Black Star Line a reality. At the close of his address, which lasted for over an hour and generously applauded throughout, Mr. Garvey made an eloquent and impressive appeal for funds to help the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities’ League in the prosecution of its many plans for the liberation of the Negroes of the world and the founding of a Negro nation on the continent of Africa. The audience showed their sincere appreciation of the evening’s exercises by subscribing most liberally.
Marcus Garvey is the source for Bob Marley’s well known phrase in “Redmption Song:”
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds.
That famous lyric originated with Marcus Garvey. In his 1937 speech “The Work That Has Been Done” given at Menelik Hall in Nova Scotia Garvey states:
We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.
The mental emancipation Garvey spoke about has yet to become significantly widespread among the human race. One indication humanity has yet to achieve mental emancipation is the fact criminal charges are still on the records of the United States Federal Government. Does such fact Garvey’s of universal emancipation warrant his exoneration? With such a powerful statement having influence on people worldwide to the extent they seek further knowledge as to source of Bob Marley’s lyrics it would seem the answer is in the affirmative.
The only evidence used to convict Marcus Garvey was actually an absence of evidence. At trial a single empty envelope was presented. Allegedly the envelope once contained a flyer which suggested the Black Star Line owned a ship named for Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American to have published poetry. Garvey was out of the USA at the time and therefore could not have created such a flyer if one actually existed.
Though the phrase “emancipate yourself from mental slavery” is commonly associated with “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley, few know the concept originated with Marcus Garvey. During a speech given in October 1937 at Nova Scotia’s Menelik Hall entitled “The Work That Has Been Done,” Garvey stated:
We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind …
Marcus Garvey Menelik Hall Sydney, Nova Scotia October 31, 1937 From the speech “The Work That Has Been Done.”
Marcus Garvey’s memory has been kept alive worldwide. Schools, colleges, highways, and buildings in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States have been named in his honor. Garvey has also been immortalized in song and literary works both fiction and non. What follows is an attempt to delve into the influence Marcus Garvey continues to hold despite the fact he joined the ancestors more than seventy years ago. Efforts to render him something “other” than influential by those who oppose the redemption of Africa continue to the present.
Of primary significance is the Red, Black and Green flag. which was presented to the world nearly one-hundred years ago on August 13, 1920. Since then it has been adopted as the Black Liberation Flag. The Red, Black and Green is not just a pop culture symbol referencing Garvey. It is also the flag of the Sovereign United States of Africa. Garvey, in his words, works and deeds mentioned the United States of Africa numerous times. Most notably was its first appearance in his poem “Hail United States of Africa. “The United States of Africa first saw light in a 1924 poem by Garvey and is still discussed to this day.
In 1980, a bust of Garvey was placed in the Organization of American States’ Hall of Heroes in Washington, D.C.
Kwame Nkrumah named the national shipping line of Ghana the Black Star Line in honor of Garvey and the UNIA. Established on 10 September 1957, the state shipping line was 60 percent owned by Ghana and 40 percent owned by Israel. The first ship it purchased was named the “Volta River.” Nkrumah also named the national soccer team the Black Stars as well. The black star at the center of Ghana’s flag is also inspired by the Black Star Line. The company’s assets were sold in 1982 by the Provisional National Defense Council.
During a trip to Jamaica, Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott King visited the shrine of Marcus Garvey on June 20, 1965 and laid a wreath. In a speech he told the audience that Garvey “was the first man of color to lead and develop a mass movement. He was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny. And make the Negro feel he was somebody.” Earlier that day at the National Arena, Dr. King was given the Keys to the City of Kingston after delivering another 40-plus-minute address. In his introductory remarks he was quoted as saying that “In Jamaica I feel like a human being.”
King was also the posthumous recipient of the first Marcus Garvey Prize for Human Rights on December 10, 1968 issued by the Jamaican Government and presented to King’s widow.
Garvey and Rastafari
Rastafarians consider Garvey a religious prophet, saint and sometimes even the reincarnation of John the Baptist. This is partly because of statements renowned to have been uttered by him in speeches throughout the 1920s, usually along the lines of “Look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned for the day of deliverance is at hand!”
His beliefs deeply influenced the Rastafari, who took his statements as a prophecy of the crowning of Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. Early Rastas were associated with the African Redemption movement in Jamaica. This early Rastafari movement was also influenced by a separate, proto-Rasta movement known as the Afro-Athlican Church that was outlined in a religious text known as the Holy Piby — where Garvey was proclaimed to be a prophet as well. Thus, the Rastafari movement can be seen as an offshoot of Garveyite philosophy. As his beliefs have greatly influenced Rastafari, he is often mentioned in reggae music, including that of Burning Spear and Dubwize (New Zealand).
Pop culture references
There have been pop culture references to Marcus Garvey since he first came on the international scene. Garvey is cited repeatedly in a diverse variety of books, songs and films as a legend worthy of emulation. As such, he stands out among leaders, historical and contemporary, for having continuously sustained a broad cultural relevance.
One of the first such instances was probably the tune “West Indies Blues” composed and written by New Orleans musicians J. Edgar Dowell with Spencer and Clarence Williams in 1923. The tune contains the lyrics relating to Garvey:
Some time soon or later, When I come back to this great land, You better watch me, Harvey, ‘Cause I’m gonna be a great big man Like my friend Marcus Garvey!
The team was also responsible for another Garvey related tune “The Black Star Line”, first recorded by jazz singer Rosa Henderson in 1924 for Vocalion’s Aeolian label. It’s chorus lays out the plan:
Get on board country man, I say, get on board, leave this land, Gwine back on be Black Star Line. A-get on board, country man,
The reggae genre stands out for continuing to pay homage to Garvey as a great man worthy of recognition. Bob Marley, one of the most famous Rastafarians, coincidentally had his first hit song “Simmer Down” during early 1964. At the time negotiations had commenced on the disinterment and enshrinement of Garvey as the first National Hero of Jamaica. The song has a theme similar to that of Garvey’s own “Keep Cool”.
Marley refers to Marcus Garvey in his song “So much things to say”, saying, “I’ll never forget no way: they sold Marcus Garvey for rice.” The song criticizes anyone willing to betray independent African leadership and the pittance the traitors receive (hence the phrase “for rice”).
Marley’s, “Redemption Song” and “Africa Unite” echo the basic tenets of Garvey’s philosophy. ‘Redemption Song’ is significant in this instance in that a key phrase “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our mind‘ is a paraphrase from a speech given by Garvey in 1937 while touring Nova Scotia. The entire speech was published in Garvey’s ‘Black Man’ magazine.
Burning Spear, a well-known Jamaican reggae artist, has repeatedly mentioned Garvey, in albums including Garvey’s Ghost and Marcus Garvey. He released “Marcus Garvey ” in 1975, with two of the songs mentioning Garvey. Throughout Burning Spear’s career, Garvey has been a major influence on nearly every song.
Sinead O’Connor’s reggae-influenced 2005 album Throw Down Your Arms opens with a cover of Burning Spear’s song “Marcus Garvey”. O’Connor performed the song that year on The Late Late Show sporting a Garvey t-shirt. Erstwhile reggae producers Sly and Robbie joined her along with the Jamaican All-Star Band.
The group Culture wrote a song about Marcus Garvey’s “prophecy” on leaving the Spanish Town prison entitled “Two Sevens Clash.” The 1976 album of the same name also had the song “Black Star Liner Must Come”. In 1975 Big Youth recorded a song entitled “Marcus Garvey Dread” on his album “Dreadlocks Dread”. The Gladiators, a reggae band, often sing of Marcus Garvey, for example, their song “Marcus Garvey Time.” Jamaican harmony trio The Mighty Diamonds wrote a reggae song called “Them Never Love Poor Marcus”, referring to Garvey. They also refer to him in their song “I Need A Roof”.
In the intro to The Orb’s song Towers of Dub a prank caller, Victor Lewis-Smith, phones the London Weekend Television security desk and leaves a message for Haile Selassie saying that he should meet Marcus Garvey in Babylon. The ska band Hepcat has a song entitled “Marcus Garvey” on their album “Scientific”. The band Piebald has a song entitled “If Marcus Garvey Dies, Then Marcus Garvey Lives” on their album “If It Weren’t For Venetian Blinds, It Would Be Curtains For All Of Us.”
Zacheous Jackson Conscious message reggae music singer/songwriter refers to Marcus Garvey in his songs “Garvey Garvey” and “The Conspiracy” , which highlight the work of Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the conspiracy against him, and Zacheous also mentions Garvey in another of his songs called “Too Much A Wi”.
In the 1987 song “The Spirit Lives” on the album “Hold On To Love” by “Third World” the following verse appears:
Oh, the spirit lives
It’s living in the people and it can never die
Marcus Garvey, he lives on
He told his people they’ve got to be strong
One God, one aim, one destiny
Let Marcus Garvey live in you and me – well
Hip hop groups also stand out for having included references in their songs to Marcus Garvey. Progressive hip hop group Arrested Development, in their epic song “Revolution” (from the soundtrack to the 1992 Spike Lee directed film Malcolm X) mentions Garvey near the beginning and end of the song. Hip Hop duo Black Star (consisting of rappers Mos Def and Talib Kweli) took the name of their debut album from the Black Star Line. The group Brand Nubian on their 1993 album “In God We Trust” had a song ‘Black Star Line’ with Redd Foxx. The cut was redolent with themes reminiscent of the 1924 song of the same name but with Garveyism in every verse.
Rapper Nasir Jones (AKA. Nas) made reference to Marcus Garvey in his debut album from 1995 Illmatic. In “Halftime” ( a song originally issued as a single and part of the 1992 Zebrahead soundtrack) he raps,
Nas also appears on the Wu-Tang Clan album The W in the song “Let My Niggas Live” with the following lyrics:
I scream at the mirror, curse, askin God, “Why me?”
Run in the black church, gun in my hand, y’all try me
I’m God-son, son of man, son of Marcus Garvey
Rastafari irie, Ha-ile Selassie
On another Wu-Tang Clan track ‘I Can’t Go To Sleep’ featuring Isaac Hayes, the RZA states the following:
‘They… Exported Marcus
Garvey ’cause he tried to spark us
With the knowledge of ourselves, and our forefathers’.
The video has images of Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.
In the song “Ah Yeah” from the album KRS-One a verse is as follows:
They tried to burn me, lynch me and starve me So I had to come back as Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley They tried to harm me, I used to be Malcolm X They thought they had me By puttin holes in my chest Nowadays through hip-hop I manifest Now I’m on the planet as the one KRS. Kickin the metaphysical…spiritual… tryin to like get with you showin you you are invincible Whether you know it or not you’re in a race against time the finish line is control of your mind…Ah yeah
Ludacris, in his popular video replete with numerous African elements “Pimpin’ All Over the World”, is wearing a T-Shirt with Garvey’s image and the legend: “A people without the knowledge of their past, history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots,” a quote attributed to Marcus Garvey. The Haitian-American rapper Wyclef Jean, in his appearance on Chappelle’s Show, performed his song “If I Was President”, that references Garvey:
“Tell the children the truth, the truth … tell em about Marcus Garvey …”
Dead Prez refers to Marcus Garvey in most of their songs and live by his Red, Black and Green philosophy.
Daz Dillinger refers to Garvey in the song “Our Daily Bread”, in his album “Retaliation, Revenge and get Back” on Deathrow Records.
The perennially sampled funk group Funkadelic has the Red, Black and Green flag on the Pedro Bell drawn cover of their 1978 album “One Nation Under a Groove”. The image portrays a group of people planting the flag on the planet earth in a manner reminiscent of the Iwo Jima flag raising. The flag has the letters “R&B” emblazoned across it in white.
Other References to Garvey
Jazz Musicians Roy Ayers, Pharoah Sanders and Gil Scott-Heron each have completely different songs with the title “Red, Black and Green”. The Red, Black and Green flag originated with the organization Garvey founded, the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League on August 13th during their 1920 convention.
Fictional books also have made mention of Garvey, although to a lesser degree than in the musical realm. He is referenced in African-American novelist Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ on page 272 of the Vintage printing, while the Random House edition of 2002 has him mentioned in passages on pages 206 and 277. Ellison may have used Garvey as the basis for the book’s character Ras the Exhorter. He is a West Indian black nationalist “demagogue” who eventually leads to the book’s protagonist having an epiphany about his membership in a white-controlled group known as “the brotherhood”.
In The Autobiography of Malcolm X, his name is stated as “Marcus Aurelius Garvey,” referencing Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius. Malcolm’s father, Earl Little was both a UNIA Division President and distributor of the Negro World newspaper. The first chapter of the book is essentially about three topics: Marcus Garvey, Malcolm’s father the Rev. Earl Little, and the organization of which they were both members, the U.N.U.A.
The HBO television drama, The Wire, has an episode where African American mayoral candidate Clarence Royce uses Marcus Garvey posters in his campaign to win votes in majority Black Baltimore, Maryland. Royce is then accused by State Delegate Watkins of hiding behind the posters to win votes.
Garvey is mentioned in three episodes of the HBO’s Boardwalk Empire series: “The North Star,” ‘White Horse Pike,” and “Farewell Daddy Blues.” Actor Jeffrey Wright portrayed Dr. Valentine Narcisse in the series. Narcisse came to be involved in efforts by J. Edgar Hoover to provide intelligence on the UNIA.
The 2003 film and directorial debut of Denzel Washington, “Antwone Fisher” features the Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey. Main character Antwone Fisher (played by Derek Luke) receives a copy of The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey from Dr. Jerome Davenport (played by Washington) as a gift.
1. The Black 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential African-Americans, Past and Present By Columbus Salley, Page 82, 1999, Citadel Press.
2. Daily Gleaner June 20, 1965: Martin Luther King Jr. visits Jamaica
3. M.G. Smith, Roy Augier and Rex Nettleford, “The Rastafari Movement in Kingston, Jamaica,” Kingston 1960, p.5
4. The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, Vol. V: September 1922-August 1924 (Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers), University of California Press, Page 801.
5. Damian Marley – Confrontation, Welcome To Jamrock Album,
6. Sinead O’Connor – Marcus Garvey on youtube
7. Third World The Spirit Lives Lyrics
8. Arrested Development Videos on VH1
9. YouTube – Nas – Halftime
10. TRUE Shit – Wu-Tang’s Let My Niggas Live/I Can’t Go To Sleep
11. Wu Tang Clan – I Can’t Go To Sleep Ft. Issac Hayes
12. Ludacris – Pimpin’ All Over The World: Golden Palace Version
13. “Antwone Fisher” 1:12 at Caption Swap, last accessed on October 31, 2007
Cultural Tourism DC announced that it will unveil a plaque at the former residence of the Honorable Lady Henrietta Vinton Davis on May 8, 2010 at 2pm.
Miss Davis’ residence has been a part of Cultural Tourism DC’s African American Heritage Trail for nearly a decade. The recognition comes on the heels of a “Livication” program honoring Miss Davis at Washington, DC’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library held on Sunday March 14, 2010. The program was a collaborative effort between the Henrietta Vinton Davis Memorial Foundation and the Martin Luther King, Jr, Memorial Library. The event was the kickoff for an exhibit recognizing Miss Davis’ significance as an elocutionist, dramatic reader and Shakespearean actor.
Her career marked a turning point in the history of Africans in America. She earned a living as a performing artist at a time when there were few with the training and skills to perform with her.