Colonization and Emigration
Overview
The Reasons for Emigration and Colonization
The Colonization of Sierra Leone
The Colonization of Liberia
Migration to Haiti
Migrations to Other Lands
The Debate over Emigration and Colonization
Marcus Garvey's Back-to-Africa Movement
Consequences of Colonization and Emigration
References
Links

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< The Debate over Emigration and ColonizationConsequences of Colonization and Emigration >

In the early twentieth century, Marcus Garvey and his movement, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), founded in his native Jamaica in 1914, boosted emigration sentiment. Three years later, Garvey immigrated to New York and set up headquarters in Harlem.

The Republic of Liberia and The Universal Negro Improvement Association     , Part IIIPhilosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, vol. 2The Republic of Liberia and The Universal Negro Improvement Association , Part III from Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, vol. 2 by Marcus Garvey and Amy Jacques-Garvey, editor

Though scorned by the black middle and professional classes, his "Back to Africa" mantra and charismatic leadership rallied many African Americans. The UNIA became the largest mass movement in African-American history, and attracted followers throughout the Caribbean, Africa, South America, and Great Britain.

Two Marcus Garvey LettersTwo Marcus Garvey Letters by Marcus Garvey
Liberia and the Universal Negro Improvement Association: The Background to the Abortion of Garvey's Scheme for African ColonizationThe Journal of African History, Vol. 14, no. 1 (1973)Liberia and the Universal Negro Improvement Association: The Background to the Abortion of Garvey's Scheme for African C... from The Journal of African History, Vol. 14, no. 1 (1973) by M.B. Akpan/Abasiattai

Garvey's version of Black Nationalism argued that African Americans' quest for social equality was a delusion. They were fated to be a permanent minority who could never assimilate because white Americans would never let them. African Americans, therefore, could not improve their condition or gain autonomy in the United States. Only in Africa was self-emancipation possible.

Garvey drew his following largely from the lower end of the economic scale. Southerners who had come North during the Great Migration that accompanied World War I, servicemen returning from the European battlefields, and his fellow West Indians seemed particularly attuned to his philosophy.

The UNIA's first convention, held in 1920 in New York, lasted for thirty-one days with many thousands in attendance. It issued a manifesto, the Declaration of Rights for the Negro People of the World, and developed plans for a settlement in Liberia. The UNIA sold millions of shares in the Black Star Line, its own shipping company, to its members. Three steamships were purchased, and black officers and crew were contracted to sail the emigrants across the Atlantic.

Two Black Star Line Letters and SharesTwo Black Star Line Letters and Shares
Letters related to the Black Star Line Inc. and a bill of sale for USS Wacondah Letters related to the Black Star Line Inc. and a bill of sale for USS Wacondah
Liberian Exploration Co. DocumentLiberian Exploration Co. Document

The Black Star fleet did carry passengers on several journeys from New York to Central America and the Caribbean, but it never reached Liberia. As the line faced bankruptcy resulting from shady dealings by some UNIA officials, the federal government launched an unrelenting investigation of the man millions revered as the "Black Messiah." He was convicted in 1925 of defrauding investors, sentenced to five years in prison, and, after serving half of his term, deported to Jamaica. In 1940, Marcus Garvey died in London.

Although his efforts at sending African Americans back to Africa ultimately failed, Garvey's influence remained strong and inspired some to migrate, on their own, to the land of their ancestors.

African Nationalist League DocumentAfrican Nationalist League Document

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Consequences of Colonization and Emigration >