"Marcus Garvey and His Relation to (Black) Socialism and Communism"
, in American Communist History, Vol. 17, Nummer 2, Seite(n) 200-219, 2018
Marcus Garvey and His Relation to (Black) Socialism and Communism
Sprache des Titels:
In the post-World War I-era Marcus Garvey was leader of the highly successful, Black nationalist Universal Negro Improvement Association. Due to comments of his in the 1920s and 1930s, his economic program for racial uplift, and a developing antagonism between his organization and other Black radicals in the U.S., Garvey is often depicted as a staunch anti-communist from the beginning. In contrast there are numerous examples that undermine this current perception of Garvey?s anti-communism. In his early years in the U.S., Garvey, the Jamaican immigrant, cooperated closely with Black socialists and communists and during the Red Scare of 1919 he avoided to publicly and explicitly condemn the Radical Left. In fact, in the time following the Russian Revolution Garvey repeatedly found laudatory words for Vladimir Lenin, the labor movement, or the recent revolutionary successes of leftist movements in Europe, all of which cast into doubt the perception of him as an uncompromising anti-communist.
Labeling Garvey an anti-communist also implies a thinking in primarily economic-political terms, which appears peculiar for a leader of a nationalist movement that highlighted race as prime factor in human relations.
To solve these contradictions the paper step by step analyzes the relationship of Garvey with (Black) socialists and communists, beginning with his arrival in the U.S. in 1916. It examines when and under what circumstances Garvey expressed views towards communism, socialism, or bolshevism, interprets their meaning for Garvey?s Black nationalism, and assesses the interplay of race and class in America at the time.