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LAC 118 - Caribbean Society and Culture - Textbook


"Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey" by Marcus Garvey, Edited by Amy Jacques-Garvey is in the Public Domain

Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey

Edited by Amy Jacques-Garvey

(Selections: Preface and Chapter 1)

Dedicated to the true and loyal members of

the Universal Negro Improvement Association

in the cause of African redemption.


This volume is compiled from the speeches and articles delivered and written by Marcus Garvey from time to time.

My purpose for compiling same primarily, was not for publication, but rather to keep as a personal record of the opinions and sayings of my husband during his career as the leader of that portion of the human family known as the Negro race. However, on second thought, I decided to publish this volume in order to give to the public an opportunity of studying and forming an opinion of him; not from inflated and misleading newspaper and magazine articles, but from expressions of thoughts enunciated by him in defense of his oppressed and struggling race; so that by his own words he may be judged, and Negroes the world over may be informed and inspired, for truth, brought to light, forces conviction, and a state of conviction inspires action. The history of contact between the white and Black races for the last three hundred years or more, records only a series of pillages, wholesale murders, atrocious brutalities, industrial exploitation, disfranchisement of the one on the other; the strong against the weak; but the sun of evolution is gradually rising, shedding its light between the clouds of misery and oppression, and quickening and animating to racial consciousness and eventual national independence Black men and women the world over.

It is human, therefore, that few of us within the Negro race can comprehend this transcendent period. We all suffer in a more or less degree; we all feel this awakened spirit of true manhood and womanhood; but it is given to few the vision of leadership; it is an inspiration; it is a quality born in man. Therefore in the course of leadership it is natural that one should meet opposition because of ignorance, lack of knowledge and sympathy of the opposition in understanding fully the spirit of leadership.


With the dawn of this new era, which precedes the day of national independence for Negroes, it is well for all members of the race to understand their leadership; know what its essentials, its principles are, and help it to attain its goal and liberate a race in the truest sense of the word.

In Chapter 1 of this volume I have endeavored to place before my reader’s gems of expression convincing in their truths. Chapter 2 deals with definitions and expositions of various interesting themes. Chapters 3 and 4 contain a collection of brief essays on subjects affecting world conditions generally and Negroes in particular. In Chapter 5 I have reproduced what I consider two of the best speeches of my husband. It is my sincere hope and desire that this small volume will help to disseminate among the members of my race everywhere the true knowledge of their past history, the struggles and strivings of the present leadership, and the glorious future of national independence in a free and redeemed Africa, achieved through organized purpose and organized action.

Amy Jacques-Garvey New York City February, 23, 1923


Chapter I

History is the landmark by which we are directed into the true course of life. The history of a movement, the history of a nation, the history of a race is the guide-post of that movement’s destiny, that nation's destiny, that race's destiny. What you do today that is worthwhile, inspires others to act at some future time.

Chance has never yet satisfied the hope of a suffering people. Action, self-reliance, the vision of self and the future have been the only means by which the oppressed have seen and realized the light of their own freedom.

Life is that existence that is given to man to live for a purpose, to live to his own satisfaction and pleasure, providing he forgets not the God who created him and who expects a spiritual obedience and observation of the moral laws that He has inspired.

There is nothing in the world common to man, that man cannot do.

The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself; but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you even into eternity.

It is only the belief and the confidence we have in a God why man is able to understand his own social institutions, and move and live like a rational human being. Take away the highest ideal: faith and confidence in a God, and mankind at large is reduced to savagery and the race destroyed.
A race without authority and power, is a race without respect.

Criticism is an opinion for good or ill, generally indulged in by the fellow who knows more than anyone else, yet the biggest fool. There is no criticism that calls not forth yet another. The last critic is the biggest fool of all, for the world starts and ends with him. He is the source of all knowledge, yet knows nothing, for there is not a word one finds to use that there is not another that hath the same meaning, then wherefore do we criticize?


Fear is a state of nervousness fit for children and not men. When man fears a creature like himself he offends God, in whose image and likeness he is created. Man being created equal fears not man but God. To fear is to lose control of one's nerves; one's will, to flutter, like a dying fowl, losing consciousness, yet alive.

Ambition is the desire to go forward and improve one's condition. It is a burning flame that lights up the life of the individual and makes him see himself in another state. To be ambitious is to be great in mind and soul; to want that which is worthwhile and strive for it; and to go on without looking back, reaching to that which gives satisfaction. To be humanly ambitious is to take in the world which is the province of man; to be divinely ambitious is to offend God by rivaling him in His infinite majesty.

Admiration is a form of appreciation that is sometimes mistaken for something else. There may be something about you that suggests good fellowship when kept at a distance, but in closer contact would not be tolerated, otherwise it would be love.

Religion is one's opinion and belief in some ethical truth. To be a Christian is to have the religion of Christ, and so to be a believer of Mohammed is to be a Mohammedan but there are so many religions that every man seems to be a religion unto himself. No two persons think alike, even if they outwardly profess the same faith, so we have as many religions in Christianity as we have believers.

Death is the end of all life in the individual or the thing; if physical, the crumbling of the body into dust from whence it came. He, who lives not uprightly, dies completely in the crumbling of the physical body, but he who lives well, transforms himself from that which is mortal, to immortal.

Faithfulness is actuated by a state of heart and mind in the individual that changes not. No one is wholly faithful to a cause or an object, except his heart and mind remain firm without change or doubt. If one's attitude or conduct changes toward an object, then one has lost in one's faithfulness. It is a wholeness of belief overshadowing all suspicion, all doubt, admitting of no question; to serve without regret or disgust, to obligate one's self to that which is promised Or expected, to keep to our word and do our duty well. There are but few faithful people now-a-days.


Prohibition is to abstain from intoxicating liquor, as it makes us morbid and sometimes drunk. But we get drunk every day, nevertheless, not so much by the strength of what we sip from the cup, but that which we eat, the water we drink, and the air we inhale, which at fermentation conspire at eventide to make us so drunk and tired that we lose control of ourselves and fall asleep. Everybody is a drunkard, and if we were to enforce real prohibition we should all be dead.

There is no strength but that which is destructive, because man has lost his virtues, and only respects force, which he himself cannot counteract. This is the day of racial activity, when each and every group of this great human family must exercise its own initiative and influence in its own protection, therefore, Negroes should be more determined to-day than they have ever been, because the mighty forces of the world are operating against non-organized groups of peoples, who are not ambitious enough to protect their own interests.

Wake up Ethiopia! Wake up Africa! Let us work towards the one glorious end of a free, redeemed and mighty nation. Let Africa be a bright star among the constellation of nations.

A man's bread and butter is only insured when he works for it.

The world has now reached the stage when humanity is really at the parting of" the ways. It is a question of "Man Mind Thyself."

The political readjustment of the world means that those who are not sufficiently able, not sufficiently prepared, will be at the mercy of the organized classes for another one or two hundred years.

The only protection against injustice in man is power: physical, financial and scientific.

The masses make the nation and the race. If the masses are illiterate, that is the judgment passed on the race by those who are critical of its existence.

The function of the Press is public service without prejudice or partiality, to convey the truth as it is seen and understood without favoritism or bias.


Education is the medium by which a people are prepared for the creation of their own particular civilization, and the advancement and glory of their own race.

Nationhood is the only means by which modern civilization can completely protect itself. Independence of nationality, independence of government, is the means of protecting not only the individual, but the group. Nationhood is the highest ideal of all peoples.

The evolutionary scale that weighs nations and races, balances alike for all peoples; hence we feel sure that someday the balance will register a change for the Negro.

If we are to believe the divine injunction, we must realize that the time is coming when every man and every race must return to its own "vine and fig tree."

Let Africa be our guiding star: our star of destiny.

So many of us find excuses to get out of the Negro race, because we are led to believe that the race is unworthy, and that it has not accomplished anything. Cowards that we are! It is we who are unworthy, because we are not contributing to the uplift and up-building of this noble race.

How dare anyone tell us that Africa cannot be redeemed, when we have 400,000,000 men and women with warm blood coursing through their veins? The power that holds Africa is not divine. The power that holds Africa is human, and it is recognized that whatsoever man has done, man can do.

We of the Negro race are moving from one state of organization to another, and we shall so continue until we have thoroughly lifted ourselves into the organization of government.

Be as proud of your race today as our fathers were in the days of yore. We have a beautiful history, and we shall create another in the future that will astonish the world.



What the night is to the day, is woman to man. The period of change that brings us light out of darkness, darkness out of light, and semi-light out of darkness are like the changes we find in woman day by day. She makes one happy, then miserable. You are to her kind, then unkind. Constant yet inconstant. Thus we have woman. No real man can do without her.


A happy but miserable state in which man finds himself from time to time; sometimes he believes he is happy by loving, then suddenly he finds how miserable he is. It is all joy, it sweetens life, but it does not last. It comes and goes, but when it is active, there is no greater virtue, because it makes one supremely happy. We cannot hold our love, but there is one love that never change or is mistaken, and that is God's. The longer we hold our love, the nearer we approach like unto our Creator.

The whole world is run on bluff. No race, no nation, no man has any divine right to take advantage of others. Why allow the other fellow to bluff you?

Every student of political science, every student of economics knows that the race can only be saved through a solid industrial foundation; and that the race can only be saved through political independence. Take away industry from a race; take away political freedom from a race, and you have a group of slaves. Peoples everywhere are travelling toward industrial opportunities and greater political freedom. As a race oppressed, it is for us to prepare ourselves that at any time the great change in industrial freedom and political liberty comes about, we may be able to enter into the new era as partakers of the joys to be inherited.

Lagging behind in the van of civilization will not prove our higher abilities. Being subservient to the will and caprice of progressive races will not prove anything superior in us. Being satisfied to drink of the dregs from the cup of human progress will not demonstrate our fitness as a people to exist alongside of others, but when of our own initiative we strike out to build industries, governments, and ultimately empires, then and only then will we as a race prove to our Creator and to man in general that we are fit to survive and capable of shaping our own destiny.


The world ought to know that it could not keep 400,000,000 Negroes down forever.
There is always a turning point in the destiny of every race, every nation, of all peoples, and we have come now to the turning point of the Negro, where we have changed from the old cringing weakling, and transformed into full-grown men, demanding our portion as men.

I am not one of those Christians who believe that the Bible can solve all the problems of humanity. The Bible is good in its place, but we are men. We are the creatures of God. We have sinned against Him; therefore it takes more than the Bible to keep us in our places.
Man is becoming so vile that to-day we cannot afford to convert him with moral, ethical, physical truths alone, but with that which is more effective—implements of destruction.

Leadership means everything: pain, blood, death.

To be prosperous in whatever we do is the sign of true wealth. We may be wealthy in not only having money, but in spirit and health. It is the most helpful agency toward a self-satisfying life. One lives, in an age like this, nearer perfection by being wealthy than by being poor. To the contended soul, wealth is the stepping stone to perfection; to the miser it is the nearest avenue to hell. I would prefer to be honestly wealthy, than miserably poor.

To be free from temptation of other people's property is to reflect the honesty of our own souls. There are but few really honest people, in that between the thought and the deed we make ourselves dishonest. The fellow who steals, acts dishonestly. We can steal in thought as well as in deed, therefore to be honest is a virtue that but few indulge. To be honest is to be satisfied, having all, wanting nothing. If you find yourself in such a state then you are honest, if not the temptation of your soul is bound to make you dishonest. This applies to the king and the peasant alike.

All peoples are struggling to blast a way through the industrial monopoly of races and nations, but the Negro as a whole has failed to grasp its true significance and seems to delight in filling only that place created for him by the white man.

The Negro who lives on the patronage of philanthropists is the most dangerous member of our society, because he is willing to turn back the clock of progress when his benefactors ask him so to do.


No race in the world is so just as to give others, for the asking, a square deal in things economic, political and social.

Men who are in earnest are not afraid of consequences.

No one knows when the hour of Africa's redemption cometh. It is in the wind. It is coming. One day, like a storm, it will be here. When that day comes all Africa will stand together.

Any sane man, race or nation that desires freedom must first of all think in terms of blood. Why, even the Heavenly Father tells us that "without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins?" Then how in the name of God, with history before us, do we expect to redeem Africa without preparing ourselves, some of us to die.

I pray God that we shall never use our physical prowess to oppress the human race, but we will use our strength, physically, morally and otherwise to preserve humanity and civilization.

For over three hundred years the white man has been our oppressor, and he naturally is not going to liberate us to the higher freedom, the truer liberty, and the truer democracy. We have to liberate ourselves.

Every man has a right to his own opinion. Every race has a right to its own action; therefore let no man persuade you against your will, let no other race influence you against your own.

The greatest weapon used against the Negro is disorganization.

If you have no confidence in self you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence you have won even before you have started.


At no time within the last five hundred years can one point to a single instance of the Negro as a race of haters. The Negro has loved even under severest punishment. In slavery the Negro loved his master, he safe-guarded his home even when he further planned to enslave him. We are not a race of haters, but lovers of humanity's cause.

Mob violence and injustice have never helped a race or a nation, and because of this knowledge as gathered from the events of ages, we as a people in this new age desire to love all mankind, not in the social sense, but in keeping with the divine injunction "Man Love Thy Brother."

Preparedness is the watch-word of this age. For us as a race to remain, as we have been in the past, divided among ourselves, parochialtizing, insularizing and nationalizing our activities as subjects and citizens of the many alien races and governments under which we live—is but to hold ourselves in readiness for that great catastrophe that is bound to come—that of racial extermination, at the hands of the stronger race—the race that will be fit to survive.

Humanity takes revenging crime from one age to the next, according to the growth and development of the race so afflicted. But the perpetuation of crime through revenge and retaliation will not save the human race.

Europe is bankrupt today, and every nation within her bounds is endeavoring to find new openings, new fields for exploitation—that exploitation that will bring to them the resources, the revenue and the power necessary for their rehabilitation and well-being. We are living in a strenuous, active age, when men see, not through the spectacles of sympathy, but demand that each and every one measures up in proportion to the world's demand for service.

The attitude of the white race is to subjugate, to exploit, and if necessary exterminate the weaker peoples with whom they come in contact. They subjugate first, if the weaker peoples will stand for it; then exploit, and if they will not stand for subjugation nor exploitation, the other recourse is extermination.

If the Negro is not careful he will drink in all the poison of modem civilization and die from the effects of it.


There can be no peace among men and nations, so long as the strong continues to oppress the weak, so long as injustice is done to other peoples, just so long will we have cause for war, and make a lasting peace an impossibility.

Hungry men have no respect for law, authority or human life.

I am not opposed to the white race as charged by my enemies. I have no time to hate anyone. All my time is devoted to the up-building and development of the Negro race.

When nations outgrow their national limits, they make war and conquer other people's territory so as to have an outlet for their surplus populations.

The world does not count races and nations that have nothing.

Point me to a weak nation and I will show you a people oppressed, abused, taken advantage of by others. Show me a weak race and I will show you a people reduced to serfdom, peonage and slavery. Show me a well organized nation, and I will show you a people and a nation respected by the world.

The battles of the future, whether they be physical or mental, will be fought on scientific lines, and the race that is able to produce the highest scientific development, is the race that will ultimately rule.

Let us prepare today. For the tomorrows in the lives of the nations will be so eventful that Negroes everywhere will be called upon to play their part in the survival of the fittest human group.

Let us in shaping our own destiny set before us the qualities of human justice, love, charity, mercy and equity. Upon such foundation let us build a race, and I feel that the God who is divine, the almighty Creator of the world, shall forever bless this race of ours, and who to tell that we shall not teach men the way to life, liberty and true human happiness?


Day by day we hear the cry of "Africa for the Africans." This cry has become a positive, determined one. It is a cry that is raised simultaneously the world over, because of the universal oppression that affects the Negro.

All of us may not live to see the higher accomplishment of an African Empire: so strong and powerful, as to compel the respect of mankind, but we in our lifetime can so work and act as to make the dream a possibility within another generation.