The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers

Editorial in the Lagos Standard[1]

The U.N.I.A.

While on the subject of the indifference and apathy of the West African Negro to improve his condition and surroundings and make for the race a name that will last and stand it in good stead I may as well say that the action of the American Negro is gaining for the Negro Race a name that will live and influence the world for good. The Universal Negro Improvement Association are doing things—great things, and are possessing themselves of ships to be manned and controlled exclusively by negro brains and labour. The "Frederick Douglas [Douglass,]" first of a fleet of large steamers[,] has been launched and put to sea[.] We have heard much of the inhuman provocations offered these sons of Africa domiciled in the "white man's land." Disgusted with the ghoulish character of their white fellow-citizens the negro in America is yearning to return to his original home and take his rightful place in the world and work out his own destiny—not other people's—and they are coming. The cry from Macedonia[2] has reached their ears and the "Black Star Line" has left American shores.
“It is well for us O Brother
That you came so far to see us”
Eager eyes are watching and longing hearts are waiting for the day. Will the West African Neg[r]o continue to play the lazy Ethiopian? I do not think so. Let us wait and see.
Printed in the Lagos Standard, 24 December 1919. Reprinted, in a slightly edited version, in NW, 6 March 1920.
[1] The Lagos Standard, founded in 1894, was a rival of the Lagos Weekly Record. The owner and editor, George Alfred Williams (1851–1919), was a Saro born in Freetown and educated at the Sierra Leone Grammar School who emigrated to Lagos in 1871. The Standard consistently supported reforms in colonial rule, championing such issues as free electric light for Lagos in 1895; a free water system, 1908–1916; and the fight to retain Africans' control over their own land, 1912–1913. The newspaper, which ceased publication on 28 January 1920 when Williams's son proved unable to continue his father's work, was therefore not in existence at the height of the Lagos Garvey movement (Fred I. A. Omu, Press and Politics in Nigeria, 1880 – 1937 [London: Longman, 1978], pp. 36–38).
[2]A reference to a call for help and salvation from a distant country, as in Acts 16:9: "And a vision came to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, 'Come over into Macedonia, and help us.'"