Today, August 17, is Marcus Garvey Day.
As Barbados continues to celebrate the Season of Emancipation, The Prime Minister’s Office, Culture, and the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), invite the public to join in commemorating the life and times of Marcus Garvey at historic Queen’s Park on August 17th 2022 at 6 p.m.
The event aims to highlight Jamaican Marcus Garvey’s influence on the development of the Pan-Africanism in Barbados and the wider Barbadian society in general during the 20th century and the first two decades of the 21st century.
Queen’s Park holds great significance to the Marcus Garvey Day since it was at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed in 1937 where he delivered a powerful lecture to hundreds of his supporters entitled: “Intelligence Versus Ignorance”.
The lecture will be held in the Daphne Joseph Hackett Theatre and delivered by Rodney Worrell PhD, on the topic Marcus Garvey’s Impact on the Barbadian Landscape 1919-2019. Dr. Rodney Worrell is a lecturer in the Department of History & Philosophy at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus.
He has written extensively on Pan-Africanism. His latest book is George Padmore’s Black Internationalism.
Along with a lecture, there will be performances from spoken word and musical artistes.
Event Planner at the NCF Stacia Bryan said the date is an important one in the Season of Emancipation and the day’s programming seeks to remind Barbadians of Garvey’s impact on society.
“This year, we are presenting performance interpretation from spoken word and musical artistes reflective of the work of Marcus Garvey and his followers.
:As the NCF does this, we seek to re-educate Barbadians about the Black Power Movement and its impact on Barbadian People, politicians, Governments, Rastafarians, and the Pan-African formations,” Bryan said.
In the early hours of October 18th 1937, leader of the Pan-Africanist movement and President General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA,) Marcus Garvey, sailed into Barbados on the C.N.S Lady Nelson.
Thousands of Black Barbadians gathered at the Pier Head to glimpse the revolutionary Pan-Africanist from Saint Ann, Jamaica. Garvey was greeted by several dignitaries from the local UNIA branches and the local Black business sector.
Garvey’s widely popularised stance on Black entrepreneurship and economic self-sufficiency, along with his crusade
for rehabilitation of the African race had gained tremendous traction in Barbados where the planter-class continued its dominance socially, economically culturally and politically.
The first Universal Negro Improvement Association’s chapter was established in 1919 on Reid Street/Tudor Street. Later branches emerged in Westbury Road, and in the rural districts of Crab Hill, St Lucy, Indian Ground St Peter and others. By 1920 the UNIA had a membership of over 1800.
The membership of the UNIA was comprised of the black working and middle classes, for example, John Beckles, JTC Ramsey, Clennell Wickham.
The Barbados Working Men’s Association, the industrial and business arm of the Democratic League that was formed by Dr Charles Duncan O’Neale, was inspired by Garvey and embraced the philosophy and practices of Garveyism.
The UNIA worked closely with the WMA. Both organisations were closely monitored by local police and were subjected to heavy criticisms by right-wing supporters as they were seen as major antagonists of the merchant-planter elites. (PR)
Sources: David Browne, 2012; Henderson Carter, 2016; Rodney Worrell, 2020