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Letter of the Day | No pardon necessary for Marcus Garvey

Published:Friday | September 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM


I write in respect of the movement to obtain a presidential pardon from the United States for National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

On the surface, this might seem to be a good thing, but if we should examine our motives against a historical backdrop, we might consider differently.

Garvey was revered as one of the greatest philosophers of our time, with social scientists still weighing the monumental impact he had on the world. Besides Jamaica and the United States, his teachings were also embraced in Cuba, England, Wales, Latin America countries such as Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Venezuela, and African countries, namely, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Namibia and South Africa.

Indeed, his was the voice of a prophet, a world-class leader, a visionary who was not akin to ordinary men. Garvey, by his deeds, was larger than life. With or without a criminal record, he stands as one of the world's greatest thinkers and visionaries, with a contribution that is larger than life. His philosophy was embodied in his organisation, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

This movement to obtain a pardon belies the very teachings of this great man who clamoured for black pride, self-sufficiency and dignity.


Mental slavery


Of even greater significance, Garvey's teachings cautioned against mental slavery, which he cited as one of the greatest threats to our liberation. A pardon can only be sought from a credible or a respected source. We are seeking a pardon from a system where institutionalised racism continues to weaken the very structures of black liberation, where murder and brutality continue unabated.

Timing is of the essence. Seeking a pardon makes a mockery of the act itself. I believe Garvey would see this as sheer trivia, as his contribution transcends it all. There's nothing to be accomplished here.

Garvey will remain our hero, an icon for black people across the world, in life as in death. Garvey's criminal record is an indictment on the very system that gave it to him. They should be the ones clamouring to give this pardon.