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Marcus Garvey and Spirituality

Marcus Mosiah Garvey (August 17, 1887 – June 10, 1940) is known for being the father of the “Back to Africa” movement in the 1920s and ‘30s. However, he was much more than that. He was a respected intellectual of the time, linked strongly to the foundation of the Rastafarians and taught metaphysical principles.

Garvey was the Founder of the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1914 in Jamaica, then migrated to the United in 1916. The UNIA began to take hold and flourish in 1918, growing throughout the diaspora. Nearly one thousand branches were formed and eight million followers. Some of the key tenets of the UNIA were black racial pride, self-mastery, economic empowerment and personal responsibility.


The Rastafarian Movement is a relatively new religious movement, which started in the 1930s. Garvey was considered by the Rastafarians a Prophet, because of his teachings. Though he did not consider himself a Rasta, he did think of the UNIA as a “religious organization.” Even today, you will hear references to Garvey in many reggae songs by Burning Spear, Steel Pulse and others.

Metaphysical Underpinnings

Fear is a state of nervousness fit for children and not men. When man fears a creature like himself he offends God, in whose image and likeness he is created…. To fear is to lose control of ones nerves, ones will, to flutter, like a dying fowl, losing consciousness… The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey

Men who are in earnest are not afraid of consequences. The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.

The Garvey quotes above speak to the foundational teachings of metaphysics. Everything is both Love and Law. God is Love. And we reap what we sow or karma (Law). One can readily see that personal responsibility and self-mastery are direct descendants of Love and Law and hence, metaphysics. However, his particular application of Love and Law are pointed toward race as a separating device.

To enjoy a current interpretation of Marcus Garvey, see the one act play called "I TIP MY HAT TO YOU MR. MARCUS GARVEY" written & performed by Clifton E. Smith - March 22, 2012 - Donald Wright Auditorium, 285 E. Walnut Ave, Pasadena, 5:00-9:00


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