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This Month in Black History: Marcus Garvey Imprisoned in Atlanta

By Kalin Thomas Contributing Writer | 2/15/2013, noon
The year was 1925. It was four years before the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and life was good for ...
Marcus Garvey

Garvey then published The Negro World to help recruit more followers. He followed that with the Negro Factories Corporation -- a chain of grocery stores, a restaurant, a steam laundry, a tailor and dressmaking shop, a millenary store, a publishing house and the infamous Black Star Line Steamship Corporation.

After being arrested for mail fraud in 1925 and imprisoned at Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, Garvey spent two years in jail writing "African Fundamentalism” and his future plans for the UNIA.

In his First Message to the Negroes of the World from Atlanta Prison Garvey wrote, “If I die in Atlanta my work shall then only begin….I shall come and bring with me countless millions of black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for Liberty, Freedom and Life.”

In 1927, President Calvin Coolidge reversed Garvey’s sentence, but he was released into the custody of U.S. Immigration and deported back to Jamaica.

Garvey’s return to the Jamaican UNIA headquarters caused dissent and fragmentation among the U.S. branches, and even after a successful 1929 convention in Kingston, the UNIA was never the same as its Harlem heyday.

Though his wife and children stayed in Jamaica, Garvey moved to London in 1935 where he died in June of 1940.

In 1964 his remains were brought back to Kingston, Jamaica and reentered in a special Marcus Garvey Memorial in National Heroes Park, where he was declared Jamaica’s first national hero.

Today, Garvey lives on through the lyrics of reggae music -- hailed as a “Black Moses” who tried to lead his people to black pride and freedom.