The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers

Enclosure: Memorandum

S. G. Kpakpa-Quartey
(Native of Accra, Gold Coast Colony)

In continuation of Report No. 226D, dated Dec. 10th, Page 2, Universa[l] Negro Improvement Association, we now learn that the subject mentioned above has arrived in America ostensibly for the purpose of consolidating the West African trade of a firm named Shirley & Forman,[1] 409, Lennox Avenue, New York.
In a circular issued by this firm, the following paragraph occurs:—
“(7) Through the farsightedness of the Honourable Marcus Garvey, continues Mr. Quartey, by successfully establishin[g] the Black Star Steamship Corporation and putting the Negroes['] flag on the seven seas, thereby opening the doors of opportunity, an act which is bound to receive spontaneous praise from the unwilling lips of implacable foes; it therefore involves upon you a true religious and racial duty, to stand behind these great movements which are of much significance to us as a race.”
This paragraph is sandwiched in between a very ordinary advertisement of the West African trade possibilities, but the significance of it consists in the fact that we are informed that Shirley is really the prime mover of most of Marcus Garvey's concerns.
Quartey made a long speech at Liberty Hall on the night of December 6th, supporting the Black Star line and ending with the following peroration:—
“I am twenty-five years old, and I pray to witness during my life that happy era when a great consolidated negro democratic republic will be founded and founded upon a rock. Arise, I call you forth in the name of this association. Ethiopia is calling. Use your brains, money and intellect and take a defensive stand, for a mighty revolution is coming; a commercial and industrial revolution is coming; a revolution when all the desperate Africans at home and Africans abroad and all scattered sons of Ethiopia will rise in their millions to quench the fire of provocation.”
It seems to be worth enquiring from some authorities connected with the Coast as to Mr. Quartey's antecedents and activities.
PRO, CO 96/619/282. TD, copy.
[1]A reference to the New York-based trading company Shirley and Forman, Inc., founded by D. Disraeli Shirley, which consolidated with a West African company in which S. G. Kpakpa-Quartey was a partner, forming the African International Traders, Inc., in 1919. Shirley, a UNIA national organizer in the U.S., was chairman of the advisory boards of both the UNIA and the BSL in 1919 and 1920. As of January 1920 he was commander of the UNIA's Universal African Legions as well. Shirley was apparently a World War I veteran who led other veterans in legion activities. Information for those interested in participating in the legion's weekly meetings could be obtained from Shirley at his residence at 409 Lenox Avenue, New York. Legion activities, especially military drills, became the subject of alarmed British military intelligence reports, one of which announced that it was the legion's plan to "smuggle these men with arms into Africa and the West Indies on the Black Star Line as passengers" (MGP 2:210). Shirley subsequently became a target of surveillance for American special agents working for the Bureau of Investigation. Shirley was a prominent figure at UNIA meetings in 1919, and on 26 October 1919 he addressed a Liberty Hall audience on the theme of "the Negro's entrance into the commercial and business worlds" (NW, 1 November 1919) (MGP 2:69 n. 2, 138, 139, 154).