JM | Aug 17, 2022

Happy birthday, Marcus Garvey: The Man of the Hour

Tatyana Bromfield

Tatyana Bromfield / Our Today

Marcus Garvey: The Famous People

Today (August 17) marks the 135th birthday of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jamaica’s first National Hero.

Journalist, activist and founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, Marcus Garvey has made Jamaica proud in his successful efforts in advocating for black pride and unity across the globe.

In honour of the man of the hour, OurToday has compiled some facts about Marcus Garvey’s life that you probably didn’t know.

12 Facts About Marcus Garvey

1. Marcus Garvey’s father, Marcus Mosiah Garvey Sr, was a professional stone mason. One of his specialties was making tombs for people in the St Ann’s Bay graveyard. At a tender age, Garvey’s father once left him in a grave with no way out to teach him a lesson on self-reliance.

2. Marcus Garvey’s mother, Sarah Jane Richards, was a domestic worker who raised crops and cooked for a white family to support Garvey.

3. Marcus Garvey’s father would regularly withdraw from the family for days at a time and insisted his wife and two children address him only as ‘Mr Garvey’.

4. Growing up, one of Garvey’s closest friends was a white girl named Joyce Reary. However, at the age of 14, she was sent away to England by her father and told to never speak to him again because he was a ‘nigger’.

Marcus Garvey: On This Day

5. Marcus Garvey fell in love with his first wife, Amy Ashwood (17), after he saw her deliver a political speech. He called her the ‘Josephine’ to his ‘Napoleon’.

6. Initially, Amy Ashwood’s parent’s did not want the two together. They did not see Garvey as suitable for their daughter because he did not have steady income.

7. Garvey’s second wife, Amy Jacques, was actually a bridesmaid at his first wedding, to Amy Ashwood, and his personal secretary.

Marcus Garvey: NPR

8. The first time Garvey delivered a speech in the United States he was extremely nervous and fell into the crowd and flat on his face.

9. Garvey’s speech style was heavily influenced by the Evangelist Billy Sunday.

10. Marcus  Garvey would go by the self-proclaimed title ‘Hon Marcus Garvey’ in his latter years.

11. Marcus Garvey has been described by peers as egotistical and stubborn. He did not take advice from others kindly and would only rise and fall by the decisions he made.

12. Garvey would often ‘call out’ other black leaders of his time. In turn, they called him a lunatic and a traitor to the race.

READ: Floral tributes and civic ceremony for Marcus Garvey on August 17


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