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The Trial and Tribulation of Marcus Garvey

Of all great figures in Black History, none are as important – or as forgotten – as Marcus Garvey.

Marcus Garvey advocated Pan-Africanism and Black Nationalism in a way that had never been done before. His advocacy and achievements make him one of the most important Pan-Africans in history.

After less than a decade following Garvey’s creation of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.), membership had swelled to 6 million members worldwide. At the first International Convention of Negroes in August of 1920, 25,000 people packed Madison Square Garden to hear Marcus Garvey address them as the Provincial President of Africa.

Despite these massive achievements, three short years later, Marcus Garvey was placed under arrest.

The Trial and Tribulation of Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey escorted during court proceedings.

While we have written about the life and successes of Marcus Garvey here and here, his trials and tribulations are as much a part of his story as his victories. To learn more about his victories, read our article on Marcus Garvey here and here.

The sudden growth of the Universal Negro Improvement Association caught the attention of the United States government, who feared the rise of a Black messiah.


Black agents were recruited to infiltrate and sabotage the organization by J. Edgar Hoover – a man who would later create COINTELPRO to crush Black uprisings. Details of efforts to utterly destroy Garvey are documented in Negro With A Hat by author Colin Grant – a must read for all members of the Pan-African Alliance.

Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey
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Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey
  • Hardcover Book
  • Grant, Colin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

In short, Garvey was charged with defrauding investors of the Black Star Line – a group of ships designed to move people and raw material between the African nations of the world.

It was the first venture of its kind, and threatened to disrupt the balance of power in the white world.

Hit the NEXT tab below for the details and aftermath of the trial!

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