Last Saturday, I was invited to vend my books at the Marcus Garvey Festival. What a BEAUTIFUL time we had. There were singers, dancers, speakers, and many vendors just like me. I learned unknown information about Marcus Garvey that I didn't learn in school.
For those who may not know, Marcus Garvey organized the United States’ first Black Nationalist movement. After World War I, he urged Black Americans to be proud of their identity, something very foreign at the time. Many Black people just wanted to get along and live a happy life, and if that meant straightening their hair, going to the back of the bus, or being treated as less than, they did that. Simply put, many Black Americans were going along to get along, just like they had been taught over the years. You would think that those views would have died over time. However, many Black Americans are STILL ashamed of their hair, ties to Africa, and being a Black American in general. Marcus Garvey encouraged Black women to wear their OWN hair and not get it relaxed or straighten to look like people we weren't born to be.
Black Americans are experiencing an awakening, so to speak. We are rocking our natural hair, opening our own businesses, and supporting our own people, just like Marcus Garvey tried to encourage us to do so long ago. Through Garvey's leadership, a period of Black cultural and economic success emerged. His newspaper, Negro World, revealed many heroes and our rich African history. He helped us to see that we were much more than slaves. We are descendants of kings and queens; however, we have been programmed to believe that we are a bunch of nobodies. Marcus Garvey helped Black Americans understand that we are capable of so much more and living beneath our destiny!
The New York City neighborhood of Harlem served as the movement’s mecca. Marcus Garvey taught Black Americans that they would be respected only when they were economically strong, and he preached an independent Black economy within the framework of capitalism. Mr. Garvey established the Negro Factories Corporation and the Black Star Line (1919) and a chain of restaurants and grocery stores, laundries, a hotel, and a printing press.
Nothing is new under the sun...that is true. I would like Black Americans to come together, build up our neighborhoods, open and support our businesses, teach our children about our many accomplishments, and rise up to our true creed. We should love and appreciate ALL races, but we need to learn to love ourselves first. We haven't done that in the 400+ years since we've been here. We've been taught to hate ourselves and our culture. Now is the time for self-love because if we don't learn to love and appreciate ourselves, how can we expect others to love and appreciate us? Self-love is the BEST love. Like Whitney Houston sang, "Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all!"