Memorandum: To The People, Mass Organisations and Civil Society in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Caribbean, Africa, The United States of America an The World
SUBJECT: Petition to exonerate The Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, National Hero of Jamaica
There is currently an ongoing campaign to secure the exoneration of the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, National Hero of Jamaica, from his unjust, flawed, and dubious conviction for “mail fraud” offences in the United States of America in 1923; the trial was farcical. He was sentenced to a maximum of five years; his imprisonment commenced in 1925, and he served nearly three (3) years thereof. He was then deported to Jamaica; he died in London in 1940 at the age of 53 years; in 1964 his body was returned to Jamaica for reburial in that country’s National Heroes Park.
WHO WAS GARVEY?
Marcus Garvey was an outstanding Caribbean leader, a Black Nationalist and Pan-Africanist who, in the early twentieth century, built the largest ever mass political movement of black people, globally, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Garvey greatly influenced the political outlook of distinguished leaders from the Caribbean (including Michael Manley, P.J. Patterson, Portia Simpson-Miller, Maurice Bishop and Roosevelt Douglas), Africa (such as Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, and Julius Nyerere), and the USA (including Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and Martin Luther King). Garvey and his extraordinary vision live in us in the Caribbean, Africa, and the Diaspora of Persons of African Descent. He is one of the Caribbean’s greatest leaders since conquest and settlement by colonialism.
In 2015, former Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, with the support of her colleague leaders in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), petitioned President Barack Obama to exonerate Garvey of his conviction and clear his criminal record. This petition did not bear fruit; but in doing so we did put down an important marker for Garvey’s exoneration.
WHY THE TIME IS NOW?
Today, especially in the USA and some other “western” countries, there are concerted attempts to roll-back the hard-won rights of people of African descent and other historically marginalised groups. Right-thinking persons are resisting in solidarity: Thus, for example, the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015 to 2024); the global struggle for reparations for native genocide and the enslavement of Africans; the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement; and the struggles of governments and peoples in the Caribbean and Africa to uplift themselves against mighty odds. Garvey’s philosophy and opinions are helping us to see more clearly the path we must pursue; he was not right about everything, but his visionary ideas are uplifting.
WHO TO JOIN THE PETITION?
Persons, and organisations, globally, who are wedded to justice, fair play, truth, human rights, and sustainable development, whatever their nationality, ethnicity, class or religious orientation ought to join in the current campaign to exonerate Marcus Garvey. It is now widely-accepted that Garvey was spied upon, framed and railroaded by J. Edgar Hoover’s Bureau of Investigation (Bol), the precursor to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), because Hoover and other powerful persons considered Garvey “a notorious negro agitator’’.
INITIATING THE CAMPAIGN
The current campaign to exonerate Garvey has been initiated by the P.J. Patterson Centre for Africa-Caribbean Advocacy at The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, which is led by “Statesman-in-Residence”, the Most Honourable P.J. Patterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica. On the Advisory Board of the P.J. Patterson Centre is Marcus Garvey’s son, Dr. Julius Garvey, who resides in the USA.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
The following are being asked of us:
1. Sign the Petition to Exonerate Marcus Garvey which is being published online (https://bit.ly/exonerategarvey) from February 1, 2022. The Petition is open for signatures from all persons, globally, until February 28, 2022; in short during Black History Month. The Petition will be sent to President Joseph Biden of the USA for his action. Governments are urged to encourage their nationals to sign.
2. Heads of State and Government of countries especially from the Caribbean Community and Africa are asked to send letters to President Biden. On January 26, 2022, the leaders of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) agreed to send a joint letter or individual letters. The CARICOM Secretary General is also seized of the matter, and is actively working on it.
3. The diplomatic missions across the world, especially from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America are being asked to encourage their diasporas to sign the Petition.
4. Let us focus on this matter as one of the goals of Black History Month.
Assuming that President Biden accedes to this just and fair petition, he may find it of great convenience and moment to announce the Exoneration of Marcus Garvey at the next Summit of the Americas to be held in June 2022 in California, USA.
DISREGARD NEGATIVE PROPAGANDA AGAINST GARVEY
The intellectual heirs of those who railroaded and framed Marcus Garvey are likely to use negative propaganda against Garvey and our efforts. Disregard it all. Garvey, by· his thoughts, ideas, vision, and deeds, is in the top drawer of the pantheon of heroic personalities in our hemisphere, and globally. We must honour and revere him and his main body of work. We must support his exoneration.
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN! SIGN THE PETITION!
EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT MARCUS GARVEY AND GARVEYISM!
Dated the 1st day of February 2022.
Dr The Hon. Ralph E Gonsalves
Prime Minister of St Vincent and the