The name Africa has been connected with the Phoenician word afar, which means ”dust.” It has also has been connected to two Phoenician terms friqi or pharika, which means “land of corn or fruit.” It has also been hypothesized that Africa may have derived from a Phoenician root faraqa or faraq, meaning “separation or diaspora.”
The Romans have been given credit for popularizing the name Africa in the West. They used the name Africa terra meaning “land of the Afri” (or singular version “Afer”) for the northern part of the continent. Its capital was Carthage, which is modern-day Tunisia.
The story told by some historians is that the Romans got the term from the Carthaginians, as a native term for their country. The Latin suffix “-ica” can sometimes be used to denote a land (e.g., in Celtica from Celtae, as used by Julius Caesar).
Another theory is that the continent was named after the Roman general “Scicipio Africanus,” but his name meant “Sicipio of Africa,” which would mean the general was named for being from Africa.
Some say the term is drawn from the Latin adjective aprica (sunny).
The historian Leo Africanus (1495-1554) attributed the origin of “Africa” to the Greek word aprikē or aphrike. Phrike means cold and horror, when combined with the negating prefix a-, it means a land free of cold and horror.
The 1st century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus asserted that Africa was named for Epher, grandson of Abraham, according to the Bible’s Genesis 25:4, whose descendants invaded Libya. The Hebrew name for the continent, Auphirah is supposedly written as Ophir in many Jewish records.
Some have attributed the name to the later Muslim kingdom of Ifriqiya (sunny place) in modern-day Tunisia. However, the Arab version is considered by most historians to be a derivative of the Latin version.
Another theory is that the word might stem from Sanskrit and Hindi in which the root Apara or Africa denotes that which, in geographical terms, “comes after” or to the west — in which case Africa is the western continent.
Some have postulated that it is the name of a Yemenite chief named Africus who invaded North Africa in the second millennium B.C. and founded a town called Afrikyah.
A number of historians believe the Romans got the name from a corruption of what the Berbers called the region in which they lived. The theory asserts that “Africa” stems from the Berber ifri (plural ifran), the word for “cave,” in reference to cave dwellers. The same word is found in the name of the Banu Ifran from Algeria and Tripolitania, a Berber tribe originally from Yafran (also known as Ifrane) in northwestern Libya.
A few historians argue that the word “Africa” is indigenous to the continent, and the idea that the Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Hindus or any Caucasoid group created the name Africa is absolutely inaccurate.
This theory asserts that Romans and Greeks began using the term only after coming in contact with African people, such as the Greek conquest of Egypt and the Roman conquest of North Africa and Egypt.
The term “Afru-ika” means “birthplace” or “Motherland,” according to historian Ivan Van Sertima. Af-rui-ka means “to turn toward the opening of the Ka, womb or birthplace.”
Another hypothesis is that the name of the 4th dynasty pharaoh, Kh-afre, reveals that an early Egyptian king had the name “Africa.” It’s believed by some that because modern Egyptologists and others often mix the order of the hieroglyphs that the ancients wrote Kh-afre is supposedly written as Afre-Kh or Africa.
In the tradition of Queen Nzingha a Mbande and Queen Mother Yaa Asantewa
Born Araminta Harriet Ross, in 1820, Harriet Tubman was a fugitive slave, one that never compensated her owner; she was an “acting abolitionist” as opposed to a “talking abolitionist,” a distinction John Brown often made; she was a humanitarian; and Union spy during the U.S. Civil War. Tubman was beaten by the various masters to whom she was hired out to and would suffered a severe head wound after being accidentally hit by a two pound metal weight on the head. The injury caused disabling seizures, narcoleptic attacks, headaches, and powerful visionary and dream experiences, which occurred throughout her life. Harriet, who was told as a child she was of Ashanti lineage, was a god-fearing, unassuming woman. We must assume her interpretation of Christianity was a blend of the earlier Afrikan spiritual survivals and the little understanding she derived from her mother telling her biblical stories. Clearly, Harriet rejected white interpretations of scripture that urged slaves to be obedient and found guidance in the Old Testament tales of deliverance. She would ascribed the visions and vivid dreams she experienced as a result of the blow to revelations from God. Using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses, composed of free and enslaved blacks, white abolitionists, and other activists, known as the Underground Railroad, Harriet escaped at the age of 29. She traveled by night, guided by the North Star, trying to avoid slave catchers, who were eager to collect rewards for fugitive slaves. The "conductors" in the Underground Railroad used a variety of deceptions for protection. For example, at one of the earliest stops, the lady of the house might ordered Tubman to sweep the yard to make it appear as if she was a slave for that family. Once night fell, the family hid her in a cart and took her to the next “station.” These “routes” were used by other fugitive slave, therefore secrecy was of utmost importance, and Harriet did not speak about them until later in her life.
She crossed into Pennsylvania with a feeling of relief and awe, and recalled the experience years later:
"When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven." Soon after Harriet reached Philadelphia, she began thinking of her family. "I was a stranger in a strange land," she said later. "[M]y father, my mother, my brothers, and sisters, and friends were [in Maryland]. But I was free, and they should be free." She began to work odd jobs and save money. Then she met William Still, the son of manumitted slaves.
Still, born in freedom, began his career as a clerk working for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. When Philadelphia abolitionists organized a committee to aid fugitive slaves who reached Philadelphia, Still became its chairman. By the 1850s, Still was a leader of Philadelphia's African-American community. One of the main reasons we know of Harriet Tubman is because of the work of Still. Often called "The Father of the Underground Railroad," Still was responsible for helping as many as 800 slaves escape to freedom through his network, interviewing each person and keeping careful records, including a brief biography and the destination of each person, along with any alias that they adopted, though he kept his records carefully hidden. Still worked with other Underground Railroad agents operating in the south and in many counties in southern Pennsylvania. His network to freedom also included agents in New Jersey, New York, New England and Canada. Harriet Tubman was part of his network and after the Civil War, Still published the secret notes he’d kept in diaries during those years, in his book entitled, The Underground Railroad. The book is a source of many historical details of the workings of the Underground Railroad, and includes Tubman's exploits, as well as others.
Still realized Harriet longed for her love ones, and that she wanted them to enjoy freedom too. He enlisted Harriet's services to be a conductor on his network of the Underground Railroad. The rest is history: She would return more than thirteen times to rescue more than 70 slaves (for this feat alone, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison named Harriet, “Moses”); she helped John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry; worked for the Union Army, first as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy; was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, guiding the Combahee River Raid, which liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina; she became active in the women's suffrage movement after the war; and near the end of her life, she lived in a home for elderly African Americans that she had helped found years earlier. What an incredibly amazing life!!! And one of the most amazing things about her life is that she lived to tell about it. She died at the age of 93. Damn! Harriet Tubman, my hero (or sheroe, if you like).
Adapted from a blog by Brandy Zadrozny
Did you know that Saint Nick is the patron saint of children and prostitutes?
The original bearded gift-giver on which the legend of Claus was formed made a name for himself in the Christian faith by helping a poverty-stricken neighbor, whose three virgin daughters would have been forced into prostitution if not for the secret gifts of gold from St. Nick. That’s why St. Nick is the patron saint of prostitutes. But he wasn’t finished. Nicholas earned his better-known title, patron saint of children, by resurrecting three boys who had been murdered by an innkeeper, after their bodies had been pickled in barrels.
Did Santa lives in the North Pole?
In areas where the legend derives, there is disagreement. Norwegians says the man in red resides in Drøbak; the Danes send their wish lists to Greenland. But perhaps the most passionate claim to Santa’s home was made by Finland in 1927. Residents there proclaimed in 1927 that Santa could never live in the North Pole because his reindeer would never survive. Finland’s tourism board now declares “Everyone knows that Santa and his reindeer live in Lapland,” though they concede, he might keep an office at the North Pole.
Has Santa always been married?
Prior to Margaret Eytinge’s 1881 poem “Mistress Santa Claus,” Santa was a solo, leading incredulous housewives to wonder just how a man better known for his jollies could pull off such a holiday all by himself. University of Minnesota Professor Karal Ann Marling explains that it was in the 19th century that Christmas became a lavish family event and thus, woman’s work. The winter holiday was celebrated with an elaborate feast, trees were meticulously decorated with upright candles, and presents were held in fancy cornucopias then later in perfectly wrapped packages. Without these original Martha Stewarts, there might have been no Mrs. Claus.
Was Santa always depicted as a rotund, white-haired man?
The big-bellied, grandfather type you expect to see slide down your chimney is a direct result of Thomas Nast, an illustrator who in 1881 perfected his iconic image of a rotund, red-cheeked, bearded Santa in Harpers Weekly. Before these famous cartoons went viral, Santa was depicted either as a tall, thin, and less than jolly fellow or an elfin man. (Remember ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ “a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, with a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick?”)
The Santa we know and love today was given to us by Haddon Sundblom, who was commissioned by Coca-Cola to create a “wholesome Santa.” Sundblom’s 1931 version of the ruddy-complexioned Santa also cemented his red and white suit.
Did you know Santa had a Black slave and other helpers?
Delivering toys to all the good little girls and boys is a big job, and at one time (and still in some places) St. Nick had friends to help out. In the Netherlands, St. Nick has Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), a type of servant who hands out pranks as well as candy. In Austria, a far more terrifying figure keeps the children on the nice list: His cloven-footed friend Krampus is armed with a bundle of birch sticks for beating and a large sack for snatching naughty children and hauling them back to Hell.
Where did the flying Reindeers come from?
Fact: Reindeers don’t fly. So why not a flock of eagles to pull Santa’s sleigh? There are some far-out theories for this one, including one that posits Siberian shamans used magic mushrooms to hallucinate with the beasts. But the more widely accepted tale of how we got to Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and the rest lies with the Norse god Odin (an early influence for our beloved Santa) who delivered gifts while atop a flying, eight-legged, white horse named Sleipnir.
Do Elves really make all those toys.
Elves have been associated with Christmas for some time – Santa himself was described as one in 1822—but the hardworking little guys we think of today didn’t show up until an 1857 poem in Harper’s Weekly told the tale of Santa’s workshop:
In his house upon the top of a hill,
And almost out of sight,
He keeps a great many elves at work,
All working with all their might,
To make a million of pretty things,
Cakes, sugar-plums, and toys,
To fill the stockings, hung up you know
By the little girls and boys.
Elves in other countries aren’t so helpful. In Greece, they sneak into homes to scare children, and in Scandinavia, the gnomes play pranks.
Santa loves milk and cookies.
Come on kids, get creative. Santa snacks on rice pudding in Denmark, sponge cake in Chile, Kulkuls in India, and mince pies in the U.K. The Brits also leave Santa a sherry, because hey, it’s going to be a long night. (For all we know Santa might be an alcoholic pedophile.)
Let them have their Santa!
Our reliance on the worldview and culture of others has kept us in our lowly world predicament. I have challenged us to return, reformulated, restore a world Afrikan culture based on our worldview and history. This involves severing our reliance on Western notions. I have earlier said that in Western thought the concepts of philosophy, religion, and science hold great esteem, with the West claiming it was in the development of these ideas that separated Western man from the rest of humanity. Giving value to these same concepts is very popular in some "Afrocentric" circles, often given the same esteem, however, attributing their origins to Afrika instead of Europe. This method of “Afrocentricizing” is like painting Santa Claus black, believing, now, as a result, black children will develop healthy senses of cultural appreciation, racial pride and self-esteem. This is an erroneous and misguided assumption. I hear there is a movement afoot to challenge Santa's whiteness.
Saint Nicholas was a historic 4th-century Christian saint and Greek Bishop of Myra, which is now part of modern-day Turkey. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, a corruption of "Saint Nikolaos." His reputation as a Wonderworker and Gift-giver grew among the faithful, and he was eventually given a feast day, December 6th. Saint Nicholas would become the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children, pawnbrokers and students in various cities and countries around Europe.
The question is, “What was the race of Saint Nicholas?” Just because he is identified as Greek says little about his race as many Hellenized Afrikans have been historically identified as Greeks. He lived during the Arius controversy, and at the Nicea Conference he was anti-Arian and defended the Orthodox Christian position. Arius was an Afrikan, and perhaps Saint Nicolas in his opposition to his ideas was reflecting the Greek worldview, which was antithetical to Afrikan thought. But to be anti-Afrikan in one's thought still does not disqualify a person as Afrikan, as many Hellenized Afrikans adopted a worldview that was philosophically anti-Afrikan. As far as the available evidence, it is insufficient to claim an Afrikan heritage for old Saint Nick. He was a Greek. Claiming saint Nickholas as Black is similar to claiming Cleopatra VII was Black. She too was Greek, though it has been suggested she may have had a slight Afrikan DNA strain.
Saint Nicholas, like Jesus the Christ, and other figures is a combination of a historical person and a mythological figure. Though the Saint was a real person, his life has fused elements of the mythological. The origin of Sinterklaas and his helpers can be traced back to the mythology of Wodan and the Wild Hunt, which saw Wodan leading the hunt riding through the air on his white horse Sleipnir. He was always accompanied by two black ravens, who would listen at chimneys to report to Wodan about the good and bad behaviors of humans. With the coming of Christianity, it was decided by Pope Gregory I that the best way to win the people over to Christianity was to merge their myths with Christian ideas and values. Wodan's mythology was merged with that of Saint Nicolas or Sinterklaas. According to myths Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) operated by himself or in companionship with the devil. This was a testament to the triumph of good over evil. It was said that on Saint Nicholas' Eve, the devil was shackled and made his slave. A devil as a helper of the Saint can also still be found in Austrian Saint Nicholas tradition in the character of Krampas. (These were all based on Afrikan cosmology, particularly, the Ausarian Drama, where Heru having been victorious over him evil uncle Set, punishes him by making him the force that propelled the sun across the sky. This was not a triumph of good over evil but of “evil” being used in the service of good.) Other sources suggest that in Germania, Zwarte Piet originally was the devil forced to assist his captor.
Now an even larger issue is how can Afrikan people's claiming of Santa Claus benefit Afrikan Christians? In truth, it matters little if Santa Claus is black, if the same materialism and cultural values that preserve Western “civilization” are inculcated in our children. We need holy days that strength us as a race, as a people. If our celebrations are not designed to serve and generate Afrikan power, then we might as well continue celebrating a white Santa (and a Black Pete).
Let them have their Santa.
A Forgotten Human Rights Spiritual Warrior!
In 1797, Isabella Baumfree was born into slavery on the Hardenbergh Estate, in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York, a Dutch community. Colonel Hardenbergh bought James and Elizabeth Baumfree (meaning tall tree) from slave traders and kept their family at his estate just north of present-day Rifton, in the town of Esopus, New York, 95 miles north of New York City. James Baumfree was an Afrikan captured from the Gold Coast in modern-day Ghana. Elizabeth Baumfree, affectionately called Betsy, was the daughter of enslaved Afrikans from the Coast of Guinea. Isabella was one of the twelve children born to them.
Charles Hardenbergh inherited his father's estate and slaves and when he died in 1806, nine-year-old Isabella, also called Belle, his family auctioned with a flock of sheep for $100 to John Neely, near Kingston, New York. Until that time, Belle spoke only Dutch, and for the rest of her life she spoke English with a Dutch accent. Nealy sold her two years later to Martinus Schryver of Kingston, NY, for $105, and he sold her in 1810 for $175 to John Dumont of New Paltz, NY, where she stayed for 16 years and was subject to physical and sexual abuse. At Dumont's, Isabella became enamored with an enslaved man named Robert, who lived on a neighboring farm. When Robert's master discovered the romance, he whipped the young man soundly. Isabella's master then made her marry an older enslaved man, name Thomas, from whom she had 4 of her 5 children, the first being Robert's. In 1799, New York state began legislation to abolish slavery, but the process was not completed until July 4, 1827. Dumont had promised to grant Truth her freedom a year before state emancipation, but reneged. As a result, in 1826, Isabella escaped to freedom with her infant daughter, Sophia-she had to leave her other 4 children behind because they were not legally freed in the emancipation order until they had served as bounded servants until their twenties.
Isabella's first job as a free woman was as a servant for Isaac Van Wagener in Wagondale, Ulster County, NY. She wasted no time in gaining her first victory in a life filled with "firsts" and accomplishments. She had learned that her son Peter, then five years old, Dumont had sold illegally to an owner in Alabama. This was a common trick in New York state, to sell off the enslaved to states in which slavery existed, though it was ending in New York. New York state imposed harsh penalty for such actions. Since this son had been emancipated under New York Law, Isabella with the help of the Van Wageners, took the issue to court and, after months of legal proceedings, got back her son. This would be the first time an Afrikan woman would take a white man to court and win the case. Up until this time Isabella practiced the various spiritual survivals of West Afrika, however, soon after this victory she became a Christian. In 1829, Isabella moves to New York City, where she works as a domestic, eventually working for the Christian evangelist, Elijah Pierson. In 1832, she meets Robert Matthews, known as the Prophet Matthias, when he visits Pierson's home and starts housekeeping for him. She joins the Matthias Kingdom communal colony, and remains a member until it dissolved in 1835. The commune fell apart a few years later, with allegations of sexual improprieties and even murder as Matthew was arrested for the murder of Pierson. Individuals had implicated Isabella in the murder but both her and Matthews were found innocent, and she sued and won for slander. During her lifetime she brought, and won, three lawsuits. This was very unusual for a woman, especially for an ex-slave who could not read and write. (She retrieved her son, Peter, won a slander suit in New York City, and a personal injury case after she was injured in a street car incident in Washington. D.C.)
After becoming acquainted with a number of religious groups, Isabella Baumfree, on June 1, 1843, changed her name to Sojourner Truth and told her friends: "The Spirit calls me, and I must go." She became a Methodist, and began traveling and preaching against slavery. In 1844, she joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry in Northampton, Massachusetts. Founded by abolitionists, the organization supported women's rights and religious tolerance as well as pacifism. While there, Truth met other abolitionists the likes of William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and David Ruggles. She also met and befriended Olive Gilbert, an abolitionist- feminist who later wrote her biography, the Narrative of Sojourner Truth. The group disbanded in 1847 at which point Truth worked as a housekeeper for George Benson, the brother-in-law of William Lloyd Garrison. In 1850, Truth purchased Benson's home for $300. That same year her biography was published. The next year she joined abolitionist George Thompson's speaker's bureau, traveling to Rochester, NY, where she stays with Underground Railroad leader, Amy Post. At the Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, on May 28, 1851, Truth made her most famous address, known as "Ain't I A Woman." In the speech she asserted that women deserved equal rights with men because they were equal in ability to men. "I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that?" She concluded her argument, saying "And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and the woman who bore him. Man, where was your part?"
In 1855, a second edition of her Narrative was published, with an introduction by Harriet Beecher Stowe, whom she had met and befriended earlier. She traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan, to speak to the Friends of Human Progress convention, through efforts of Michigan Quaker, Henry Willis. She was at one point friendly with Millerites, a religious movement that grew out of Methodism and later became the Seventh Day Adventists. She took a liking to Michigan, and in 1857-1858, she sold her Northampton property and purchased a house in Harmonia, 6 miles west of Battle Creek, Michigan. She lectured throughout the Midwest. Once in Indiana she a member of the audience accused her of being a man in disguise. Almost six feet tall, Truth was a striking woman with a charismatic presence. She quietly took out one of her breast and remarked to the man, "Does this look familiar?", sending the crowd into uproarious laughter. Truth was legendary for her sense of humor, which she often used to deflate self-righteous people.
In 1864, during the Civil War, Truth met with President Abraham Lincoln at the White House. She raised food and clothing contributions for Black regiments as she worked for the National Freedman's Relief Association, and in 1865 was assigned to work at the Freedman's Hospital in Washington. While there, she tried to challenge the discrimination that segregated street cars by race and this is where she was injured leading to her third successful lawsuit. With the ending of slavery, she concentrated on the issue of women's suffrage. She had earlier befriended Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but disagreed with them on many issues, most notably Stanton's position that she would not support Black male suffrage if women's suffrage was not tied to it. Although Truth remained supportive of women's suffrage throughout her life, she began to distanced herself from the organized movement as it took on what she considered an increasingly racist tone. During Truth's life she spoke about abolition, women's rights, temperance, prison reform, and she even preached to the Michigan Legislature against capital punishment.
In 1867, Truth moved from Harmonia to Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1868, she traveled to western New York and continued traveling and preaching all over the East Coast. At a speaking engagement in Florence, Massachusetts, after she had just returned from a very tiring trip, when Truth was beckoned to speak she stood up and said, " Children, I have come here like the rest of you, to hear what I have to say." In 1870, Truth tried to secure land grants from the federal government for freedmen, a project she pursued for seven years without success. While in Washington, D.C., she had a meeting with President Ulysses S. Grant in the White House and visited the US Senate chamber, where Senators sign her Book of Life, which was a collection of her experiences, anecdotes, and stories based on her travels recorded by her son, who could read and write.
In 1871 New Year's Day, she made a powerful presentation in Boston. In her speech she gave a little background about her own life. She recounted how her mother told her to pray to God that she may have good masters and mistresses. She goes on to retell how her masters were not good to her, about how her master whipped her for not understanding English, and how she would question God why he had not made her masters be good to her. She admits to the audience that she had once hated white people, but she says once she met her final master, Jesus, she was filled with love for everyone. Frances Titus, wife of prosperous Quaker miller Richard Titus, was Truth's friend, traveling companion, sponsor and lecture manager. She also revised Gilbert's Narrative and added Truth's Book of Life. Though Nanette Gardner of Detroit records in Truth's Book of Life, that Truth was the first woman to vote in a Michigan state election, this seems unlikely as Michigan women were not given the right to vote until November 1918 long after Truth had died. (Truth had try unsuccessfully to vote in Michigan and in 1872, she attempted to vote for Grant in a federal election but again was unsuccessful. Michigan state as early as 1849 had formed a Senate committee that proposed a "universal suffrage" amendment to the Michigan constitution, which would have granted voting rights to both women and Afrikan Americans, but the proposal failed. A woman's suffrage bill did not come before the state legislature again until 1866, but again failed to pass. So the idea that Truth voted in 1872 is untenable.
In 1878-79, Truth and Titus traveled through New York and other eastern states for six months during the fall and winter. Near the latter part of her life Truth's suffered from ailing health, which limited her speaking engagements. In July 1883 she was treated by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg of the Battle Creek Sanitarium for ulcers on her legs. Truth died on November 26, 1883, at her home in Battle Creek, Michigan. More than 3,000 people crowded into the Battle Creek Tabernacle to pay their last respects to her. Uriah Smith, church leader of the Adventists presided at the services. Truth was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek, beside other family members. Because of her association with the Adventist, Truth is often considered an Adventist pioneer, but in truth, Truth was a lone spiritual warrior, who spiritually connected to all whom she felt were doing God's work.
Part 4 of 4: "The Brotherhood" and the US
African Blood Brotherhood and Domingo
Apart from Randolph and the Messenger crew, there was another organization that attacked Garvey just as bitterly—the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB). Its official name was the African Blood Brotherhood for African Liberation and Redemption. Established in 1919 in New York City by journalist Cyril Briggs, ABB functioned somewhat like a secret society or organization. The group's socialist orientation caught the attention of the fledgling American communist movement and by the early 1920s it had become a propaganda arm of the Communist Party of America.
Composed predominately of Afrikan Caribbeans, ABB politics was a curious blend of Communism and Black Nationalism. (Panthers before there were Panthers.) ABB's leadership consisted of Cyril Briggs, Richard B. Moore, Claude McKay, Lovett Fort-Whiteman, and Otto Huiswood. Many were students of Harrison, some were once associates of Randolph. However, ABB grew to dislike the Messenger crew's politics. As communists, ABB felt that Randolph was too moderate. The group believed in militant self-defense, and in general were much more revolutionary in outlook. Like Harrison, they believed that a separate Black republic not in Afrika, but in the American south should be establish for Afrikan Americans. Already at odds with Randolph, the distance between ABB and his camp would widen and the vitriol increase, once the Messenger began to write anti-West Indian editorials.
Domingo, at one time a close associate of Garvey's and the first editor of the Negro World, after his removal from editorship of the paper, ostensibly because of his socialist views and integrationist tendencies, had now become one of Garvey's bitterest adversaries. With his "defection" from the Messenger, he aligned himself with ABB, though he never became a member. Domingo identified with ABB partly because of its West Indian composition, feeling more congeniality with this community of anti-Garveyites, as opposed to the Messenger's anti-Garveyites. As the Messenger continued to attack and highlight Garvey's nationality, in March 1923, Domingo responded in an open letter to the Messenger. After making excellent points against the Messenger editors, and pointing out the West Indian contribution to the Afrikan America struggles, he then states that it was West Indians that brought Garvey down! He says: Let us face certain facts regarding Garvey . . . . Who are the bitterest and most persistent opponents of Garvey? Aren't they West Indians like Cyril Briggs, R.B. Moore, Frank R. Crosswaith, Thomas Potter and myself? Who caused his arrests and indictments? West Indians: Grey, Warner, Briggs and Orr. Who conducted the Crusader Service, Garvey's veritable nemesis? Briggs, assisted by this writer. The January Crisis, in justice to truth and elevated journalistic principles, concedes part of the work I did in unmasking Garvey. . . .
Not letting himself be outdone, Owen retorted: Domingo urges with a show of certainty that Garvey's "bitterest opponents are West Indians." We grant it. The West Indians are probably the bitterest opponents. . . . But who are Garvey's most formidable opponents?. . . . Unquestionably . . . American Negroes. . . .
Owen goes on to insist that it was the Messenger that was the first person to suggest and inaugurate the fight upon Garvey's nebulous schemes and dreams. So here we have two Black radicals taking credit for bringing down Garvey. Randolph through he was instrumental in the "Garvey must Go" campaign, he steered clear of much of the anti-West Indian diatribe. He would say, … West Indians are among the foremost fighters in all cities for racial right. They are assiduous workers, vigorous fighters, diligent and able students." With that being said, nevertheless, what Randolph did to Garvey was unconscionable. And it seems like history has been let off the hook fro what he did to Garvey. Even more so, history has forgotten Owen.
Between DuBois, Randolph, and Owen, it was Owen that worked hardest against Garvey. In fact, neither DuBois nor Randolph, were part of the Committee of Eight, whereas Owen was its secretary! While Garvey was awaiting trial for mail fraud, Owen and 7 other prominent Afrikan Americans drafted and sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General, Harry M. Daugherty, calling on him to use his "full influence completely to disband and extirpate this vicious movement" and to "vigorously and speedily push the government's case against Marcus Garvey." The Committee of Eight consisted of Chandler Owen, Harry H. Pace, Robert S. Abbott, John E. Nail, Dr. Julia P. Coleman, William Pickens, Robert W. Bagnall, and George W. Harris, all prominent Afrikan Americans. Garvey would refer to this letter as "the greatest bit of treachery and wickedness that any group of Negroes could be capable of. This thing is so shocking, so vicious and murderous as to make it impossible for any self-respecting person to imagine that any one, other than a culprit of the meanest kind, could be responsible for its authorship."
More than the Black radicals and the Black Bourgeoisie, the US Government wanted Garvey to fail. Sometime around November 1919 the Bureau of Investigation ((BOI) the FBI's forerunner) started an investigation into the activities of Garvey and the UNIA. Toward this end, the BOI hired James Edward Amos, Arthur Lowell Brent, Thomas Leon Jefferson, James Wormley Jones, and Earl E. Titus as its first five Afrikan American agents. Government agents were secretly planted in the UNIA, ABB and within the Messenger editorial staff. These agents provided intelligence to the BOI while in some case sabotaging meetings, and acted as agent provocateurs. Although initial efforts by the BOI were to find grounds upon which to deport Garvey as "an undesirable alien," they charged him with mail fraud in connection with stock sales of the Black Star Line after the U.S. Post Office and the Attorney General joined the investigation. So what does this all mean—that Black folks are talking too much credit for the fall of Garvey. That the US government had thoroughly infiltrate all concerned organizations, and manipulated, staged, and determined outcomes. The US government destroyed Garvey—plain and simple. In our tribalisms and jealousies, our egotism and sense of inferiority, we assisted but it was larger than our petty diversions and disorganization. Just as Malcolm's and King's assassinations were larger than us, so was Garvey's political assassination. And carried out by the same force(s).
Part 3 of 4: The High Road of Harrison
While DuBois had more formal education and was a leading scholar, Harrison known as the "Black Socrates" or as a "walking encyclopedia," was acknowledged as the foremost Black intellectual of the time. And like DuBois and Garvey, he was an activist—considered the "father of Harlem radicalism." Before Garvey's arrival, Harlem belonged to Harrison. He started the "New Negro" movement, the "Buy Black" campaign, and coined the concept "Race First." He founded the Afro American Liberty League (AALL) and the Voice, as a radical alternative to the NAACP. The Liberty League advocated internationalism, political independence, and class and race consciousness.
W.A. Domingo, who knew Garvey in Jamaica, introduced his to Harrison. Garvey was Harrison's keynote speaker when he launched the AALL. Garvey worked with the Liberty League, before setting up the UNIA in America. The two organizations formed a working relationship and by early 1920, Harrison became principal editor of the Negro World, the official voice of UNIA (Domingo was its first editor). Under Harrison's editorship, the Negro World became the leading race-conscious, radical and literary publication of the day. However, by late 1920, Harrison had grown increasingly critical of Garvey. His attacks were less vitriolic and personal than DuBois', Randolph's or Owen's; moreover, he nevertheless contributed to the UNIA's "Declaration of the Negro Peoples of the World" and continued to write for the paper for two more years.
One of the problems Harrison had with Garvey, was he found the UNIA not class-conscious enough. Harrison was at one time the leading Black socialist in America, and although he left organized socialism, he maintained an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist stance. He was at odds with what he called Garvey's "desire for empire." In Garveyism, he saw a form of imperialism—Afrikan Diasporan against Afrika. In contrast to Garvey, Harrison emphasized that the Afrikan Americans' principal struggle was in the United States, not in Africa. Afrikans were to free themselves from imperialism by their own hands and effort. Apart from ideology, Harrison also disliked Garvey's iron-fisted style of leadership, his larger than like persona, his emotional appeal to his followers, and the "pomp and circumstances" of the UNIA.
Garvey was a capitalist and suspicion of Communism and Socialism and this put his at odds with all the so-called Black radicals. Garvey believed that Communism would be more beneficial for whites by solving their own political and economic problems but would further limit the success of Blacks rising together. He believed that the communist party wanted to use the Afrikan American vote "to smash and overthrow" the capitalistic white majority to "put their majority group or race still in power, not only as Communists but as white men." For Garvey, it mattered little whether it was communism or socialism, if it was white led, it would only abet white supremacy. Communist were another group of white men who wanted to manipulate Blacks so as to continue to control us. Garvey says "It is a dangerous theory of economic and political reformation because it seeks to put government in the hands of an ignorant white mass who have not been able to destroy their natural prejudices towards Negroes and other non-white people. While it may be a good thing for them, it will be a bad thing for the Negroes who will fall under the government of the most ignorant, prejudiced class of the white race." Harrison, though he differed with Garvey, was the most principled in his disagreement.
After breaking with him, Harrison was the most principled of Garvey's detractors. (Though, Harrison is one of the individuals Garvey's first wife Amy Ashwood supposedly had an adulterous affair with.) Rather than become fixated with destroying the UNIA, Harrison looked to develop political alternatives to Garveyism. He worked with various groups, including the Virgin Island Congressional Council, the Democratic Party, the Farmer-Labor Party, the single tax movement, the American Friends Service Committee, the Urban League, the American Negro Labor Congress, and the Workers (Communist) Party (the name at that time of the Communist Party USA). In 1924, Harrison founded the International Colored Unity League (ICUL), which was his most broadly unitary effort. He would edit the ICUL's Voice of the Negro until his untimely death in 1927.
Part 2 of 4: The Messenger and Friends of Negro Freedom
A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen
A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen, like so many other “radicals” of the time were students of Harrison. The feud with Garvey, however, would deteriorate under these two, especially Owen, who in my opinion was a bit of an opportunist (maybe even an agent). After his stint as a socialist, Owen moved to Chicago, Illinois, where after experiencing a change in financial fortunes, became a Republican. (Afrikan Americans still voted Republican at the time.) He became managing editor of the Chicago Bee, a major Afrikan-American publication, and continued to back Randolph in his efforts to unionize Pullman porters on the railroads. Owen went on to set up his own public relations company. He remained interested in politics and wrote many speeches for politicians such as Wendell Willkie, Thomas Dewey, and even for US presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Randolph and Owen believed in democratic socialism; they tied their hopes for Black progress to this idea. Garvey's emphasis on capitalism was at odds with them. Moreover, Randolph, like DuBois, had tried to build a mass-based (socialist) organization, called the Friends of Negro Freedom (FNF). He had also tried to infiltrate the UNIA with socialist doctrine. And in both endeavors, he failed. Part of his attack on Garvey was because of these failures. Like DuBois, Randolph wanted to be the leader and spokesperson for Black folks. Along came Garvey, an upstart; a successful one at that. This had to wound the pride or ego of Randolph; Hence, like DuBois, we must view Randolph's attack as partly ideological and partly personal.
In the 1920s, Randolph and other black leaders, most of whom had supported Garvey after his arrival in the United States, came to believe that Garvey's program for Black advancement was unsound, and that Garvey himself was a charlatan. Many admired his skills as a propagandist and organizer, but thought his plans for Black development, including the Black Star Line and the establishing of a Pan Afrikan state, were unrealistic. Randolph, like Harrison and DuBois, disliked the UNIA's grandiose titles and military regalia, and thought Garvey presumptuous to title himself as "Provisional President of Africa." Randolph said Garvey had "succeeded in making the Negro the laughingstock of the world."
After DuBois published his Crisis attacks, Randolph personally critiqued the economic feasibility of the Black Star Line in the Messenger, accusing Garvey of squandering the hard-earned money of his hard-working, poor supporters. Though the Black Star Line was guilty of some unsavory dealings and record-keeping, this was done by various opportunists in the company that took advance of the situation. It was not part of a grand scheme on the part of Garvey to defraud Afrikan people. Rather than pinpoint those guilty individuals, the whole of the UNIA was held responsible. It is unfathomable that a sincere and honest man, dedicated to uplifting the Afrikan race was portrayed as a charlatan, and literally "run out-of-town."
Randolph and Owen established FNF to garner support for Black-owned businesses and to help provide Afrikan American workers with training in labor union organizing techniques. The organization was unsuccessful in gaining any meaningful membership, however. Its main competition was not the NAACP or Urban League, as it founders had envisioned, but the UNIA--they both relied on the Black working class. As Garvey's troubles grew, the FNF naturally led the attack against him, especially though their mouthpiece, the Messenger. The Messenger led the way in what became known as the "Garvey Must Go" campaign, as the FNF and its supporters appealed to the federal government to step up investigations of irregularities in the Black Star Line, and to look into alleged acts of violence on the part of Garvey's inner circle. The Messenger vowed to begin a vigorous editorial campaign against Garvey, and promised to "[fire] the opening gun in a campaign to drive Garvey and Garveyism in all its sinister viciousness from the American soil." The campaign from this point on was characterized by vitriolic personal attacks on both sides, surpassing in venom the earlier DuBois-Garvey conflict.
The attack on Garvey by the Black bourgeoisie and Black radicals exploded in 1922, after Garvey was indictment for defrauding the mail, and it was discovered that he had a secret meeting with Edward Young Clarke, the imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Garvey's response to his Klan meeting was: “I regard the Klan, the Anglo-Saxon clubs and White American societies, as far as the Negro is concerned, as better friends of the race than all other groups of hypocritical whites put together. I like honesty and fair play. You may call me a Klansman if you will, but, potentially, every white man is a Klansman, as far as the Negro in competition with whites socially, economically and politically is concerned, and there is no use lying.” Some of Garvey's critics said because he was West Indian, he did not fully understand the history behind white southern violence against black people and the full horrors represented to Afrikan Americans by the KKK.
This last point, which mentions Garvey's West Indian background would be taken up again by The Messenger. Randolph said, if “Garvey is seriously interested in establishing a Negro nation why doesn't he begin with Jamaica, West Indies. An editorial later that month, called Garvey the "messenger boy of the Klan" and a "Supreme Negro Jamaican jackass" while labeling his organization the "Uninformed Negroes Infamous Association." In its attacks, the Messenger took on an increasingly anti-West Indian tone. Another editor, in the most sustain anti-Garvey diatribe wrote:
A Jamaican Negro of unmixed stock, stock, squat, stocky, fat and sleek, with protruding jaws, and heavy jowls, small bright pig-like eyes and rather bull-dog-like face. Boastful, egotistic, tyrannical, intolerant, cunning, shifty, smooth and suave, avaricious; as adroit as a fencer in changing front, as adept as a cuttle-fish in beclouding an issue he cannot meet, prolix to the 'nth degree in devising new schemes to gain the money of poor ignorant Negroes; gifted at self-advertisement, without shame in self-laudation, promising ever, but never fulfilling, without regard for veracity, a lover of pomp and tawdry finery and garish display, a bully with his own folk but servile in the presence of the [Ku Klux] Klan, a sheer opportunist and a demagogic charlatan.
The attacks on Garvey's nationality damaged and ruptured a number of highly functional working relationships between the Afrikan American and Afrikan Caribbean populations. W.A. Domingo, a Jamaican contributing editor for the Messenger, and the person most instrumental in the Jamaican independence movement, asked that his name be removed from the Messenger masthead.
However, the attack on Garvey would be aided and abetted by a number of the "West Indian radicals," who felt that Garvey dishonored them, ideologically, and as a West Indian.
Part 1 of 4: DuBois
The success of Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the UNIA made a number of Black leaders or activists increasingly uncomfortable, and for a variety of reasons. Amongst them were W.E. DuBois, Hubert Harrison, A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen, editors of the Messenger magazine, W.A. Domingo, and an organization called the African Blood Brothehood (ABB).
Although DuBois initially commended Garvey's efforts, one has to question his sincerity. After all DuBois, considered the “Father of the Protest Movement,” had struggled against Booker T. Washington, and in Garvey, a supporter of the “Tuskegee idea” (racial self-help through industrial education within a racial segregated environment), he must have saw a continuation of that same battle. DuBois was at the same time developing a Pan Afrikanist program, and it is likely he viewed Garvey's program as either competition or a distraction. Also, DuBois had hoped to be the leader of Black folks. He had started the all-Black Niagara Movement but it failed; he instead ended up along with some white liberals establishing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
In contrast, Garvey, whose formal education could not match DuBois', was able to the establish the largest Black organization in history, and seemingly overnight. By 1919, the UNIA claimed to have 2 million members and 30 chapters around the world. Garvey captured the attention and imagination of the Black folks in a way that Du Bois was never able to. (Or any Black leader before or since.) I think that considering the situation and circumstances, it is reasonable to assume that jealousy was a factor in the DuBois-Garvey situation, especially given the fact of who DuBois was—the first person of Afrikan descent to earn a doctorate from American's most prestigious university, Harvard.
Garvey noted when he visited the Crisis office the absence of visible black staff. In fact, Crisis was largely white staffed; as director of publications and research, Du Bois was the only Afrikan American among its early officers. This fact would arouse Garvey's suspicious not simply about the magazine, but the NAACP in general. He told an audience the 1920 UNIA convention, "Negroes are big, not by the size of their pocketbook, not by the alien company they keep but by their being for their race. You cannot advocate 'close ranks' today and talk 'dark water' tomorrow; you must be a hundred percent Negro." This was a backhanded attack on DuBois. It is not my intention in this last sentence to suggest that Garvey struck the first insult. As to who introduced the personal venom into their relationship: it is a moot point. DuBois was a bit of a snob and initially an elitist; Garvey was an agitator with a flare for showmanship. He “Agitated, Educated and Organize!” The collision course these two men were on seemed predestine.
By 1920 Du Bois had become deeply suspicious of Garvey's methods, ideas, and motives, and published his own damning expose of Black Star Line finances in the Crisis. (Garvey accused Du Bois of paying conspirators to sabotage the Black Star Line in order to destroy his reputation.) In fact, DuBois wrote a series of articles in Crisis between 1922 and 1924 attacking Garvey's movement. W.E.B. Du Bois called Garvey the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race -- either "a lunatic or a traitor." He said Garvey "suffered from serious defects of temperament and training" and described him as " a little, fat, black man, ugly, but with intelligent eyes and a big head." Garvey countered by calling Du Bois the Negro "misleader." He said DuBois was purely and simply a white man's nigger and that he was "a little Dutch, a little French, a little Negro...a mulatto. Why in fact," Garvey wrote, "he is a monstrosity." Many people, especially Philip Randolph, accused Garvey of introducing the color prejudice of the Caribbean into the Afrikan American milieux. This is utter nonsense—where ever the white man has inhabited he has left colorism; it is a by-product of white supremacy and a very convenient divide and rule mechanism. In Afrika America, colorism is the 800-lb gorilla in the room.
Garvey suspected that Du Bois was prejudiced against him because he was a Caribbean native with darker skin but DuBois does not mention Garvey's nationality, only his complexion. This might suggest, that for DuBois, whose father was born in Haiti, Garvey's immigrant background was less of a concern, and that colorism was more a concern. Why else would DuBois refer to Garvey as 'black and ugly'? Their conflict though supported by ideological difference, was more personal than ideological. (DuBois had not yet embraced Communism.) But ultimately, it was about power and leadership. DuBois felt he was better trained and educated for leadership of the race.