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Marcus Garvey: Look For Me in the Whirlwind

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Online Forum: Marcus Garvey vs. United States
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Can one of you please provide the case citation in the criminal prosecution of Marcus Garvey so that one might read the case? Also, please comment on the real danger Garvey posed to capitalist white supremacy: the independence and self determination of African people.
Russell W. Stamper, Sr.

Answered by Barbara Bair:
The case (including the appeal) is Marcus Garvey _v._ United States, no. 8317, Court of Appeals, 2d Circuit, 2 February 1925.

Portions of the legal arguments in the case were also reprinted at the time in the _Negro World_ newspaper and in the _Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey,_ volume two, edited by Amy Jacques Garvey (a volume which was produced in part to help publicize the injustice of the case and lobby for Garvey's release from prison). You can also read excerpts along with extended coverage of the case, including Garvey's commentaries, his closing address to the jury, and other public reaction, in volume five of the _Marcus Garvey and UNIA Papers,_ volume 5, edited by Robert Hill, Deborah Forczek, and Devra Weber. That volume covers the 1922-1924 period in which the initial trial took place.

While Garvey's initial mail fraud trial only lasted a month, the full legal proceedings leading up to his imprisonment were protracted. The trial began in New York on 18 May 1923, with Judge Julian Mack presiding. The trial ended on 21 June 1923, with Garvey being sentenced to five years in prison for mail fraud. Garvey's appeal for bail was initially rejected and he spent three months incarcerated in the Tombs Prison in New York before finally being released on bail (pending the appeal of his case to a higher court).

While he was free on bail, Garvey showed no signs of backing down in response to the intimidation of his trial experience and impending imprisonment. He continued to travel on speaking tours and organize for the UNIA. Garveyites, meanwhile, continued to show their mass support for their leader. Garvey presided with other UNIA officers over major mass meetings at Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall in New York in the first part of 1924, and the Fourth International Convention of the Negro Peoples of the World (the annual UNIA convention) convened in New York in August 1924, with the traditional high-profile presence in the streets of Harlem.

During this time, Garvey and other UNIA leaders also continued to pursue the UNIA dream of a working shipping line, circumventing the legal problems surrounding the Black Star Line by launching a new shipping enterprise called the Black Cross Navigation and Trading Company.

It completed the purchase of a new ship, the S. S. Goethals, which was renamed the S. S. Booker T. Washington. It sailed in 1925 with UNIA officials aboard on an organizing tour to various ports in the Caribbean, including Cuba. Meanwhile, petitions were circulated and signed by thousands of grassroots Garvey supporters and delivered by a UNIA delegation to President Calvin Coolidge in Washington, D.C.

The appeal of Garvey's case began to be considered in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 2d Circuit, in the fall of 1924, and was officially denied on 3 February 1925. Garvey, who had been away from New York on his own organizing tour to the Detroit area, was arrested at the 125th Street train station as he returned to the city via Albany, New York, on 5 February 1925. He was taken directly into custody and arraigned the next day. He was transferred from the Tombs Prison in New York to the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary on 7-8 February, and began serving his term. The U.S. Supreme Court denied his writ of certiorari petition on 23 March 1925 (basically declining to hear further appeal of the case).

As Garvey endured his incarceration, the focus of UNIA activism shifted to winning executive clemency, or presidential pardon, for him and his release from prison. In response to this activism, led by Amy Jacques Garvey and other UNIA leaders, and action on the part of the Pardon Attorney's Office, President Coolidge commuted Garvey's sentence on 18 November 1927. The UNIA leader was subjected to immediate deportation. Garvey left the United States at the beginning of December 1927, never to return, but he continued his UNIA leadership and began new political, publishing, and financial enterprises in Jamaica. Meanwhile, UNIA divisions and the _Negro World_ newspaper continued to function in the United States, and Garvey led annual UNIA conventions outside U.S. borders, in Kingston and in Canada. The UNIA shipping line efforts ended with the S. S. Goethals/Booker T. Washington, which, like its Black Star Line predecessors, was plagued with financial and mechanical problems.

For primary documents about Garvey's appeal, incarceration, pardon, and deportation see volume six of _The Marcus Garvey and UNIA Papers,_ edited by Robert Hill and Barbara Bair. That volume covers the period of UNIA history from the fall of 1924 through the beginning of December 1927.

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