Ode to Marcus Garvey

(8-17-1887) to (6-10-1940)

by Tarik Nia

When Marcus Garvey said
"One God! One Aim! One Destiny!"
He'd raised black peoples' voice
and proclaimed our peoples' choice:
Build strength in Pan-African Unity

His United Negro Improvement Association
and the Black Starline Steamship Corporation
Ten million Africans strong
joined hands across the Atlantic
Diaspora and African home

From America to Ghana
South Africa to Brazil
from Panama and Cuba
Marcus Garvey built
His spirit in my conscience
I hear his message still
"Up you mighty people
You can accomplish what you will!"

Black pride in Black Cross Nurses Corps
Black factories and grocery stores
Black Starline vessels sailed across the sea
And when the Frederick Douglas sailed
Garvey to her captain yelled
"Raise High your flag of Red, Black, and Green!"
At Liberty Hall when Garvey taught
The "Sons and Daughters' of Africa" sought
to reunite with our history
"We've got to understand our past
to understand ourselves
And understand why we need
to reclaim African destiny"

But uncle toms came dressed in black
to place themselves at Garvey's back
And Europe's colonial masters feared
the African spirit Garvey reared
America in her racist prime
undermined Garvey's climb

So one day U.S. marshals came
The honorable Garvey jailed and chained
arrested him, and refused to set his bail
The court room farce a federal frame
when the procecutors claimed
Marcus Garvey: Theft by U.S. mail.

Jim Crow sat on the judges bench
a smirk across his face
At last he'd put that African nigger
Garvey in his place
Garvey standing noble
looked in Jim Crow's face
"When I am dead, wrap the mantle
of the Red, Black, and Green around me
For in the next life
with the grace of God I shall rise
to lead millions of Africans
to the heights of triumph!"

Then Jim Crow cussed and read the verdict
in that racist case
"For preaching African unity
and defrauding U.S. mail
Five years for Marcus Garvey
in Atlanta's federal jail"
Said Garvey
"I will uplift my people
until my final breath is gone
Africa for Africans, abroad and at home!"

While Garvey was in prison
some negroes who had risen
to leadership within the U.N.I.A.
self-seeking and unconscious
like negroes are today
with Garvey in the dungeon
sold-out the U.N.I.A.

But Amy Garvey was unfettered
and when it seemed that injustice won
tireless were her efforts
to have their wrong undone
From Harlem to Havana
to Washington DC
there rose a mighty clamor
"Set Marcus Garvey free!"

So the president relented
and his sentence was aborted
But his truth was so resented
Garvey was deported

Then Garvey went home to Jamaica
by British colonials feared
For as he entered the harbor
ten-thousand Africans cheered
The next day he started to rebuild
not being one to look back
But these efforts he'd never see yield
for too soon the British attacked

Police harassment, political schemes
and legal farce were Britains' means

In June of 1940
the Honorable Marcus Garvey
returned to his Creator
But his spirit, wrapped in the mantle
of the Red, Black, and Green
remains alive in the African conscience
Elijah Muhammed, Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Tourre
Patrice Lumumba, Malcolm X, Bob Marley
Kwame Toure, Nelson Mandella, Henrik Clarke, Louis Farrakahn
and millions of Africans around the world!
Still building strength in pan-African unity

"Up you mighty people!
You can accomplish What you will!!!"

Ode to Marcus Garvey by Tarik Nia

© Copyright 2001. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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