In 1914 on Wednesday, June 17, the S.S. [Steam Ship] Trent departed from Southampton, England. From the passenger manifest, we know that there were three third-class passengers on the S.S. Trent. One of the three was Marcus Mosiah Garvey. The S.S. Trent stopped in Barbados, Trinidad, and Panama before arriving in Jamaica on Tuesday, July 7, 1914.
As the trip back home to Jamaica would last twenty (20) days, we are told by Mr. Garvey, “Becoming naturally restless for the opportunity of doing something for the advancement of my race, I was determined that the Black man would not continue to be kicked about by all the other races and nations of the world, as I saw it in the West Indies, South and Central America and Europe, and as I read of it in America.” Moreover, he asked himself, “Where is the Black man’s government? Where is his King and his Kingdom? Where is his president, his country, and his ambassador, his army, his navy, his men of big affairs? I could not find them and then I declared I will help to make them.” Consequently, he mapped out his plans for what would be known as the Universal Negro Improvement (and Conservation) Association and African Communities League.
Finally, on Monday, July 20, 1914, Mr. Garvey called the first meeting and elected officers as the UNIA ♦ACL was founded with its address at 121 Orange Street in Kingston, Jamaica. After arriving in New York on March 24, 1916, Mr. Garvey would eventually grow the UNIA to become the largest mass movement of Africans in world history with more than 12 million members. Subsequently, the UNIA through investing by its worldwide membership, acquired hotels, restaurants, factories, universities of higher learning, printing plants, publishing companies, newspapers, transoceanic steamship lines, to name a few. In addition, the UNIA established civil services, health care services, regiments, such as the Universal Black Cross Nurses, African Legions, and African Motor Corps, etc., all as foundational springboards necessary to the construction of the new continental African nation and homeland. All of this as a result of one man’s belief in his people.
All of us in the UNIA have a duty to celebrate and reflect on the supreme sacrifice and hard work involved in founding the UNIA and should express gratitude to the ancestors for bestowing Marcus Mosiah Garvey upon us. Thus, July 20, 2020 is a Holy Day of Obligation for the UNIA worldwide.
In New York, the UNIA will celebrate the founding of the UNIA on Monday, July 20, 2020 at the business that most resembles the Black Star Steamship Corporation: The Federation of African, Caribbean, American Restaurant Owners Corp [FACA♦ROC]. Located at 132-05 Merrick Blvd. (inside Belknap Street) in Jamaica, NY, the FACA♦ROC was created in the same vein as the Black Star Line in that it involved belief in our people, pooling our resources to start a corporation, and making a solemn sacrifice.
The festivities will commence at 12 noon where we will congregate at the northeast corner of Belknap Street and Merrick Blvd to distribute palm cards and brochures with live drummers to attract interest. The Red, Black and Green will be prominently displayed and the Minister of Arts and Culture will provide give-away masks. By 6 PM, Division 432 will engage in a Zoom webinar featuring the UNIA High Executive Council members providing words of inspiration. Finally, the UNIA radio show – COMMUNITY FOCUS – will round out the evening from 8 to 9 PM on WVIP 93.5 FM IRIEJAM RADIO with the President General, Hon. Michael R. Duncan.
At approximately 5:30 PM on Friday, August 17, 1962, the Honorable Carlos A. Cooks officiated over the ground breaking ceremony of the Marcus Garvey Memorial Building located on the south side of 141st Street, approximately one hundred feet east of Eighth Avenue, Harlem. It marked the beginning of both another spectacular Garvey Day celebration and the construction of the Marcus Garvey Memorial Building. Mr. Cooks outlined two main purposes for the erection of the building. First, it would be a stone monument that would spiritually testify to the admiration and respect that the Black people of Harlem have for the life, efforts, deeds, doctrine and memory of Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Second, it would serve as a permanent headquarters for the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement (ANPM)
Although Hon. Carlos A. Cooks was born June 23, 1913, in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic, his recognition was forged in Harlem, where he was an unwavering advocate of the philosophy and opinions of Marcus Garvey. The first Dominican Republic UNIA Chapter (26) in 1919 (San Pedro de Macoris) was established at one of his father’s many buildings. Mr. Cooks would become the youngest captain in the UNIA African Legion. A year after Garvey’s death in London in 1940, Cooks, on his birthday, founded the ANPM, with the expressed purpose of keeping Garvey’s legacy of African Redemption and reclamation alive.
It was Carlos Cooks who single handedly continued the work of Marcus Garvey after Garvey’s transition.
It was Carlos Cooks who coined the phrase “Buy Black,” many years before it was popularized by others.
It was Carlos Cooks who kept Garvey’s UNIA Red, Black and Green tricolors displayed daily and nightly.
It was Carlos Cooks who established the Marcus Garvey memorial parade on August 17, 1941 in Harlem.
It was Carlos Cooks who recruited Black men to enlist in defending Ethiopia after its invasion by Italy.
It was Carlos Cooks who in 1959 convened a conference to eliminate the term, “Negro” and replace it.
It was Carlos Cooks who continued the Miss Natural Standard of Beauty to promote Black woman beauty
and natural hairstyle.
It was Carlos Cooks who created the African Pioneer Syndicate as a replica of the African Communities League.
It was Carlos Cooks who founded the STREET SPEAKER with the same focus as the UNIA’s Negro World.
It was Carlos Cooks who created jobs and employment for Black people in Harlem, similar to Marcus Garvey.
Mr. Garvey wrote, “All I have I have given to you. You.” As a result, Hon. Carlos A. Cooks sought only to promote the life and works of the Hon. Marcus Garvey.
“Instead of being consumers we should be owners,” Cooks charged. “We’re always crying about employment, yet we don’t create businesses where we could employ our own children, neighbors and friends, and empower the Black community just as other people empower their own.”
As per Elombe Brath, “He was the embodiment of commitment without egotism, and courage that would not falter or crumble even under the constant bombardment by the media’s propaganda meant to destroy the minds of a rich and noble race.”
Hence, Hon. Carlos Cooks is the ideological son of Hon. Marcus Garvey.
It has been exactly eighty years since the passing of Marcus Garvey.
Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey transitioned into ancestor ship on Monday, June 10, 1940 while living in London, England. Mr. Garvey had risen to the apex of African Liberation starting in 1920 on the night of Monday, August 2nd. That night over twenty-five thousand zealous attendees would applaud nonstop for over thirteen minutes to hear about a new journey to freedom from a new kind of messenger.
This unlikely African messenger was just thirty-two years old on that day. But like most of his audience, he was a dark-skinned Black man, one who spoke with the eloquence of the Harlem streets about long-suffered indignities and new ambitions. “We do not desire what has belonged to others, though others have always sought to deprive us of that which belonged to us,” proclaimed the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. “If Europe is for the Europeans, and Asia is for the Asians, then surely, it must be Africa for the Africans, those at home and those abroad.”
Mr. Garvey would eventually convince twelve million Africans on the planet to activate their citizenship (membership) in the UNIA; he would purchase three ships for international trade and commerce and travel; he would establish the Negro Factories Corporation in order to produce the goods for the trade; he would publish the Negro World newspaper; he acquired hotels, restaurants, factories, universities, printing plants, publishing companies, transoceanic steamship lines, to name a few. Indeed, practically every aspect of the UNIA was designed to bolster self-esteem and to foster pride in Black people. Mr. Garvey’s economic ventures in the United States amounted to an attempt toward a nucleus of a self-sustaining and therefore self-employing Black race in America. Mr. Garvey understood that racial uplift and self-reliance are the cornerstones of independent nationhood. Thus, Mr. Garvey’s gaze looked more longingly toward Africa as the salvation of the Black race. That is why the UNIA had established civil services, health care services, regiments, etc., all as foundational springboards necessary to the construction of the new continental African nation and homeland.
In September of 1939, nine months before Mr. Garvey became an ancestor, the Supreme Court of British Honduras (currently Belize) gave its final decision in the celebrated Isaiah Morter will case, which had its beginning in 1922 when Mr. Morter traveled from British Honduras to New York for the UNIA convention and for medical attention. When he died, Isaiah Morter left a will in which he bequeathed almost all his estate to the UNIA for African Redemption. The question on what activities constitute African Redemption was such the focus on the case that it went from court to court for over twelve years, even after the will was probated. Finally, the court awarded judgement in favor of UNIA Inc. of New York City, which was represented by one man (Lionel Francis), without members and with no program for African Redemption.
It looked bleak for the UNIA and Black people. Since the fraudulent conviction and eventual deportation of Mr. Garvey in 1927, the UNIA precipitated a steady decline. There was infighting, greed, and avarice over finances and the British Honduras property bequeathed by Isaiah Morter. As such, in 1929, Frederick A Toote took over the reins of UNIA Inc. to embezzle the funds. Lionel Francis would eventually lead the UNIA Inc. and rob the British Honduras property – all of 210 square miles – from the UNIA.
However, as bleak as it was, the ideological son of Marcus Garvey – Carlos A Cooks – would single handedly continue the work of Mr. Garvey. Starting in June 1940, Hon. Carlos Cooks would transform Harlem into the security perimeter that Mr. Garvey had envisioned. Hon. Carlos Cooks encouraged Black businesses to thrive; he successfully encouraged alien producers to leave the community; he coined the term BUY BLACK; he (re) instituted natural hairstyles and Miss Natural Standard of Beauty; he organized relief supplies and soldiers to defend Ethiopia; he initiated the Marcus Garvey Annual Parade; he organized the 1959 Convention to eliminate the term “Negro”; and he exalted Black Men and Women to stand up you mighty race, you can accomplish what you will.
Fast forward to 2020 with the advent of COVID-19 and the commendable and devoted protests of our youth to combat police brutality against us in North America. Our people have always been under physical and social attack since our contact with caucasians. The main difference now is that the physical attacks are documented via video. The UNIA position has always been and will continue to be same: establishing a self-reliant, independent economic system based on Race First. As the evildoers know that the protesters cannot protest indefinitely and can and will be bought out, the solution lays in the establishment of a solid self-reliant economic system based on Race First. We welcome our people to engage the UNIA: Support, shop and invest in our people’s businesses. As we created the ROC, we urge all of our people to shop at the ROC.
Every student of economics knows that the race can only be saved through a solid industrial foundation. Take away industry from a race, take away consciousness from a race and you have a slave race. After a people have established successfully a firm industrial foundation, they naturally turn to politics and society, but not first to society and politics, because the two latter cannot exist without the former.
The knee the caucasian policeman had on the back of the neck of our brother George Floyd is symbolic of perpetual suffocation exacted upon us Africans from our oppressors (both caucasian and asian). The solution has always been the mantra of the UNIA – self-reliance (independent economics based on Race First) and racial uplift to form a nation.
As we reflect on June 10th, rest assured, that just as in 1920, the UNIA in 2020 is led by an African born in Jamaica that resolutely asserts that all he has he will give to you, that he will never desert you, that he will never let your enemies triumph over you, that he will promote self-reliance, and finally, he will build that province in Africa (Liberia). Then, why be sad? Cheer up. A better day is coming.
Long live the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey.