The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers


Enclosure: Article in the London Times

The ever-present negro problem of America is illustrated by a mass meeting attended by 6,000 negroes in Madison-square Gardens last night, which was told by Mr. Marcus Garvey, President of the Universal Negroes' Improvement Society, that "400 million black men[1] are beginning to sharpen their swords for the war of races." Mr. Garvey declared that he had pledged his blood to avenge his forefathers.
The Negroes' Improvement Society, which claims a membership of 2,400,000 throughout the world, had announced the meeting as a celebration of the sailing from New York to-day of the first vessel of the Black Star Line, organized in the interests of negro trade, but it quickly developed into an anti-white demonstration and a series of tirades against what one of the speakers described as the "prejudiced pale-faces." Mr. Garvey, who presided, made a dramatic appearance, his arrival being preceded by the singing by four negro vocalists of the following composition:—
“When Africa is free and we get our liberty,
And the line we shall go there on is the Black Star line.
For the negroes all do savvy
That God and Marcus Garvey
Are the rocks of the Black Star Line.”
In his speech Mr. Garvey declared that they had fought in wars for the white man and had won only his scorn. "If we fight again," he said, "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 their liberty. I call upon you 400 million blacks, who have shed your blood for the white man, to make Africa a Republic for the negro."
When Mr. Garvey referred to the rule of the white man in the South, cries of "We'll get him" rose from among the audience.
Printed in the Times (London), 1 November 1919.
    
[1] The figure of 400 million black people used regularly by Garvey appears in an address made by Bishop Henry McNeal Turner in Atlanta in 1895. Turner said that he got the number from the Geographical Institute in Paris: "According to their calculation there are not less than 400,000,000 of Africans and their descendants on the globe" (Edwin S. Redkey, ed., Respect Black: The Writings and Speeches of Henry McNeal Turner [New York: Arno Press, 1971], p. 169).
The population estimate also makes an appearance in the pages of the African Times and Orient Review during the period when Garvey was associated with the journal in England. In the series "An Outlook on the World: From the African Standpoint," by a columnist named Sothis, it was repeated twice: "In Africa, and scattered throughout the world, there are to-day some four hundred million Africans among the inhabitants of this small planet—no very inconsiderable number" (ATOR, 1, no. 10 [April 1913]: 304), and "To the four hundred millions of Africans who inhabit this earth . . . we say: There is but one Ethiopia; one Ethiopian race and one God of Ethiopia. Scattered though we may be throughout the world, we belong to one race, and from the highest to the lowest are partakers of one destiny" (ATOR, 2, no. 16 [October 1913]: 155). The latter statement appears significant in the light of Garvey's subsequent choice of the motto for the UNIA: "One God, One Aim, One Destiny."