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Marcus Garvey Words Come To Pass

WI Staff | 8/31/2011, 1:47 p.m.
"The struggle for manhood is the continuing battle of one's life, and one loses a...
Marcus Garvey/ Courtesy Photo

Ronald L. Rodgers, the White House Pardon Attorney, sent a response to Parker that reeked of paternalism and disdain. In essence, he said that rehabilitating Garvey's reputation with a pardon was a waste of time and resources.

Rodgers said despite the request being based on "a claim of manifest injustice, and given that decades have passed since the event and the historical record would have to be scoured to objectively and comprehensively investigate such applications, it is the (Justice) Department's position that the limited resources which are available to process requests for presidential clemency ...are best dedicated to requests submitted by persons who can truly benefit from a grant of the request."

What a shame and a disgrace.

Marcus Garvey's genius lies in his development and implementation of African fundamentalism which laid the theoretical framework for black liberation. He gave black people a sense of identity and an appreciation for their past accomplishments and place in history, preached self-reliance and called on African people to use their "intelligence and creative genius" to solve their problems. Under the mantra of "One God, One Aim, One Destiny" Garvey was the first modern black leader to meld the secular and spiritual elements of black people into a theoretical and practical framework that worked for the advancement of all black people.

Most of Africa's first post-colonial leaders, who included the late Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta, spoke openly of the debt they owed Garvey. Many newly formed African nations incorporated the colors of Garvey's red, green and black nationalist flag into their own. Garvey influenced a generation of reggae singers. And, Rastafarians held up the unabashed Pan Africanist as a leader and prophet long before the Jamaican government bestowed national hero status on its native son in 1964.

While those seeking restoration of Garvey's good name understand that a presidential pardon does nothing to change Garvey's considerable legacy, one would have hoped that the nation's first black president would have taken a closer and more sanguine look at the circumstances and struck a decisive blow for morality and decency. President Obama allowed a golden opportunity to pass, but he should know that the determined and feisty warriors who fight for Garvey's good name will not be slowed nor deterred by this latest speed bump.

A luta continua -- The struggle continues ...

Barrington Salmon is a British-born Jamaican journalist who has been writing for more than 25 years. Currently, he is a senior staff writer at the Washington Informer.