Marcus Garvey’s Son Says Pardoning His Father Would Help Secure Obama’s Own Legacy

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The son of civil rights icon, pan-Africanist and Black liberator Marcus Garvey continues to fight for a posthumous pardon from President Barack Obama that will clear his father’s name. During an exclusive sit-down with NBC Black, Dr. Julius Garvey reflected on his father’s dream to create a “United States of Africa” that would uplift Black people worldwide.

“I think my father’s legacy extends beyond civil rights in America,” Garvey says. “It’s a human rights legacy fighting for African people over the globe. His message, you know, a united people can accomplish what you will.”

Garvey added that his father’s message was one of “self-sufficiency” and “self-determination.” The late activist’s ideology and vision for Black liberation inspired other civil rights stalwarts like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

In 1923, Marcus Garvey was convicted of mail fraud by a federal court and deported to Jamaica. Many of his followers claimed the allegations against him were falsified and intended to destroy him politically.

“It was the persecution of one of the first major Black leaders in the United States,” attorney Jasmine Rand of the United Negro Improvement Association says. “I mean, this is a man that Martin Luther King said was responsible for bringing dignity and consciousness to Black people in the United States. … He was the first political lynching out of a slew of political lynchings that came down the line.”

As the Obama administration’s time winds down, Dr. Garvey and 18 members of Congress have made the case for Marcus Garvey’s pardon. Last month, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, Rep. Yvette D. Clarke of New York and 16 others penned a letter to Obama stating that Garvey’s conviction and imprisonment contained an “utter lack of merit.”

“I think this president has to understand that he stands on the shoulders of those who have come before in terms of the civil rights struggle,” Dr. Garvey says, “and understand that this, in itself, is important to his own legacy.”

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