The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers

Editorial Letter by Marcus Garvey in the Negro World

Fellowmen of the Negro Race:

Greeting:—Once more peace has been restored to the world, and to-day more than ever, men are thinking of the future. To me I can foresee a future of commercial rivalry that will again end in war. Commerce is the basic strength of all nations and peoples, and, as in the past, Germans, Austrians, Russians, English, French, Americans, and Japanese are sharpening their commercial sword for the coming conflict.
I am exhorting the Negro peoples of the world to prepare for and enter into the titanic struggle for the survival of the fittest in the spheres of commerce and industry. Let every Negro man, woman and child get ready. The race of life is indeed a serious one, and no Negro can afford to allow the white man of America or Europe nor the yellow man of Asia to outdistance him in the race of life.
All Negroes should now start out to invest their money in sound and promising Negro enterprises. We have to build ships, railroads, banks, factories and plants of all kinds. To compete with the white man means that we must be equipped to take care of ourselves 100 per cent. America must be made safe for the Negro by the Negro becoming an industrial and political power; the West Indies must be dominated by Negroes because they form 98 per cent. of the population; Africa must be restored to the Negro as the haven of refuge when we need maternal shelter; the world must be made safe for the race. To bring about these changes means that we have to do some hard work, and the time for beginning is right now.
Wilson,[1] Clemenceau,[2] Orlando,[3] David Lloyd George[4] and the rest have signed the treaty of peace, but it is a peace for a certain class of white men; black men have nothing to do with this thing, for black men are not yet free. There can be no abiding peace until all men are free, so I ask that all Negroes prepare now for the next world war, twenty, thirty or forty years hence.
To-day the Universal Negro Improvement Association of the World presents you with the "Black Star Line, Inc." This corporation is now selling 500,000 dollars of common stock at 5.00 dollars per share to each and every Negro who feels that the race should own a line of merchant vessels. I am asking every man, woman and child of the race to buy as many shares as possible in this corporation so as to enable them to float the black star line on the 31st of October.
Now is the time for all true race patriots to invest in a live and promising business proposition, backed by the strength of the Universal Negro Improvement Association all over the world.
The people of Newport News, Va., last Sunday rallied to the cause of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and to the "Black Star Line," and I want every branch of the Association and every Negro to support this gigantic move and thereby herald in a new era of prosperity. With very best wishes. Yours fraternally,
Marcus Garvey
Reproduced from TN (Lagos), 3–24 November 1919. Headlines abridged. First printed in NW, 5 July 1919.
[1] Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1865–1924) was the twenty-eighth president of the United States (WBD).
[2] Georges Clemenceau (1841–1929), premier of France from 1906 to 1909 and again from 1917 to 1920, headed the French delegation to the 1919 Peace Conference in Paris (ibid.).
[3] Vittorio Emanuele Orlando (1860–1952), prime minister of Italy from 1917 to 1919, led the Italian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. He withdrew from politics with the advent of Fascism (ibid.).
[4] David Lloyd George, first Earl of Dwyfor (1863–1945), replaced Herbert Henry Asquith as prime minister, directing Britain's war policies and the terms of its peace settlement from 1916 to 1922 (ibid.).