The movement for a Republic of Africa–run for and by black people–grows strong on the streets of Harlem.
When a German society petitions a black man in America to use his influence against the use of black troops on the Rhine (as appears from an article in the International Relations Section this week), Americans cannot dismiss that man as a joke. Marcus Garvey and his movement have been criticized, probably justly, for unsound methods of finance. They have been denounced by colored critics for failing to assert social equality and by radical critics for lack of economic understanding. They have been ridiculed by white men who do not see that the foibles of their own racial consciousness are reflected in this Negro movement. But the movement goes on—a vigorous proof that the Negro no longer answers to Mr. Dooley’s -definition of a “docile people easily lynched.”
The visitor to the thriving Negro section of the Harlem. district in New York any time during the month of August would have been aware that something unusual was going on. At the corners newsboys hawked the Negro World—”all about Marcus Garvey and the great convention.” Cigar stores sold Marcus Garvey cigars. At certain hours parades drew thousands to the streets. A long one-story building, Liberty Hall, was filled all during the month with hundreds of delegates during business sessions and jammed to the doors every night. And this convention was an army with banners—red, black, and green—borne by delegates from three continents. Its leading functionaries on great occasions wore resplendent robes and at all times bore resounding titles: Potentate, Provisional President of Africa, Chaplain General, and the like. The man responsible for all this was Marcus Garvey, a West Indian Negro, not long in the United States, who asserts that in four years his Universal Negro Improvement Association has reached a membership of 4,500,000, about 45 per cent from the United States, the remainder from Africa, Central and South America, the West Indies, Canada, and Europe. Reduce this high estimate as much as you like, yet it still remains an unprecedented fact that representatives of all the principal Negro groups of the world have come together in an organization which raises the cry of “Africa for the Africans!” and proposes to found a great Negro government, an African Republic, which they vow to realize if it takes five hundred years.