The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers

Article in the African Telegraph

Perils of a World-Wide Colour War

Under this headline a British daily paper[1] describes a mass meeting of negroes held in New York to celebrate the sailing of the first steamer of the Black Star Line recently organised in the interests of negro trade.[2]
The meeting was addressed by Mr. Marcus Garvey, president of the Universal Negroes' Improvement Society, and the "wild threats" refers to a fiery speech made by this gentleman exhorting his dusky brethren to sharpen their swords for the war of races.
“If we fight it will be to make the negro free, and it will be the bloodiest war the world has ever seen. It will be a terrible day when the blacks draw the sword to fight for liberty. I call upon you 400,000,000 blacks to give your blood to make Africa a republic for the negro.”

Is It Possible?

Wild words and wild threats no doubt, and of course not to be taken seriously. Why! Who could take the nigger seriously?
Poor unfortunate off-shoot of the human race, feeble of intellect, servile by nature, devoid of all the finer instincts of life, degenerating even in the warm sunshine of a generous civilisation, who could expect to find in the negro that genius for diplomacy, organisation and generalship necessary for the success of such a madly conceived scheme? Impossible and absurd.
Thus will reason the people who six years ago laughed to scorn the idea of Germany ever launching a great world-war.
Yet the man who has any knowledge of the negro will not laugh lightly at the words of Mr. Marcus Garvey, but will read in them a warning full of terrible significance.

The Worst Insult

Torn from his home in the African forests, driven in chains to the coast, tortured in the stinking holds of ships, transported to a foreign land, and worked as no animal would be worked, the negro was released from his slavery only to become an object of contempt and racial hatred by the white man.
Instead of a merciless bondage of the body has been substituted a relentless slavery of the soul, for in the average human estimation the negro is a moral outcast; and even the lowest type of "white" blackguard is more than a shade higher up the social scale than the best of black men.
To say that an apparent white man is touched with the tar brush is infinitely more insulting than to charge him with stealing from a church poor box.
To say that the negro has no feelings indicates a complete ignorance of his psychology.

Will to Annihilate

We must acknowledge the undoubted fact that were it only a matter of volition the "civilised" negroes of America, the West Indies, and South Africa would annihilate the white race tomorrow.
Physically are they capable of carrying out this delightful plan? Is the negro capable of conducting a military campaign against the white man?
On the face of things, he is not. With our tanks and our aeroplanes and other terrible products of the great war we could sweep him off the face of the earth—in time.
But in that time imagine what might happen. Picture what would happen in America alone, were all its millions of blacks to rise in armed rebellion.
Think of South Africa, Rhodesia, Natal, East Africa, with their scattered populations of whites outnumbered by the natives in many districts by over 1,000 to 1.
Of course, we could check any such rising, but before peace were restored such a story of murder, pillage, rape and unbridled lust would there be to tell that the world would stand aghast.

"Revenge," The Battle Cry

For this would be no army of Huns let loose but a shrieking horde of super-devils, with the most terrible of all battle-cries on their lips, "Revenge."
Such is the warning of Mr. Marcus Garvey. And to those people who sneer so confidently, let me say that one of the most important lessons this war has taught is "Don't underrate either the intentions or strength of your enemy."
Printed in the African Telegraph (London), December 1919.
[1] The Daily Sketch.
[2] A mass meeting was held by the UNIA on 30 October 1919 in Madison Square Garden, New York City, in the interest of the BSL. The meeting was the climax to several months of campaigning by Garvey and the UNIA to raise funds for the purchase and launching of the BSL's first ship (MGP 2:123–134).