The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers

Article by Bisiriyu Ade Mumuney in the Times of Nigeria

Our Convention The Spirit of the New Negroes

“Lift up your heads, ye sturdy sons of Ham, And hail the Herald of a brighter day! For Ethiopia's Star doth reappear to shine And shed anew its lustrous ray, But Hist'ry oft repeats itself we're told, And stars within their courses do return. Lift up your heads, ye dusky sons of men! For yonder rise the star you can discern. E. A. Haynes”
Countrymen,—The present month (August) in the history of the Negro Race will remain one of the brightest periods. The greatest convention which is to contain delegates from all quarters of the Negro World is now going on in the heart of America. Its object as it has perhaps been known is to elect a Universal Leader for the four hundred million members of the great Negro Race, a Leader for the United States of America and Leaders for the various West Indian Islands and Central American Republics.
“After the election of all the high officers of the Universal Negro Improvement Association who will preside over the destiny of the Negro Race until an African Empire is founded, the Headquarters of this Movement will be transfer[r]ed to Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa, from which place the Leader of this worldwide Movement will issue his edicts to control the sentiments of our race.”
Well, we live in the world of mockery where each one does not take pleasure in seeing the advancement of his fellowman and the jokes which have been heard in connection with the present sensation which is being felt in the Negro World are more than sufficient to discourage the promoters of the Universal Movement. Some critics say the promoters are mad while others deny the possibility of an African Empire. But when one looks at the state of things in the Negro world to day—shall I say all the world?—and the stage of civilisation therein, he will no doubt be able to know who are mad between the promoters and the critics.
That the Negroes should rise is the wish of even the so-called Europeanised Negro—I mean one black in colour but white in opinion. Now, here is a way open to the well-wisher[.] Here is a plan to transform his dreams into reality. If he is a well-wisher in the right significance of the words let him co-operate with other Negroes and work out his destiny.
The New Negroes' plan is not to rebel against the White Rulers or the powers that be. It does not tend to disloyalty to our white Rulers as I don't think that a whiteman will object to the Negroes coming to their Home in peace. Nor do we think that a whiteman will oppose Africans' return to Africa after receiving inhuman treatments from foreign countries[.]
The Negro factories are not made to produce guns, shells[,] bombs or anything of the sort. The Negro ships (The Black Star line) are not warships or dreadnoughts but are simply made to better the Negroes' condition in the commercial and maritime world[.]
What danger then is found in the present Negro Movement? The Critics and jokers may go on in their works but we however will direct our attention only to what we are doing[,] believing that what the worldwide movement needs at present are financial support and personal enthusiasm.
Printed in TN (Lagos), 9–16 August 1920.