The family of Marcus Garvey is seeking support from the public for their petition to secure a posthumous presidential pardon of the civil rights pioneer.
According to a press release, the petition needs 100,000 signatures by Sept. 28, via the White House’s We the People platform, in order to trigger the Obama administration’s response to a request for the pardon of Garvey, who was indicted for mail fraud by a U.S. court in 1923.
Recognized as a forefather of the Civil Rights Movement by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and numerous scholars, Garvey advocated for the development of economic opportunity, as a source of black empowerment; launched the Black Star Line fleet; and founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association & African Communities League (UNIA-ACL), which, at its height, had 6 million members in 40 countries.
“He was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity, and destiny,” King stated. “And, make the Negro feel that he was somebody.”
The subject of a politically-motivated investigation by the FBI, Garvey was indicted for mail fraud in 1923, and was sentenced to five years in federal prison.
While President Calvin Coolidge commuted the sentence in November 1927, Garvey was deported back to his home country of Jamaica, which effectively ended his movement for racial justice, social progress, and economic independence for African Americans in the U.S, and throughout the world.
Garvey’s descendants, led by his son Julius W. Garvey, M.D., along with members of Congress, civil society organizations, cities, states, and international groups, have sought for 30 years to clear Garvey’s name, and to restore his legacy.
“I had to grow up with the fact that my father was a convicted criminal, convicted in the United States of America, which is the biggest and the strongest country in the world,” Garvey stated. “It was very difficult for me as a young man, to reconcile what I knew about my father, personally, and what I knew about my father from my mother, to reconcile that with a criminal conviction when it was clear he gave his whole life, and sacrificed his family for African people worldwide.”
The Garvey family filed a presidential pardon petition urging reconsideration of Garvey’s unjust arrest, trial, and incarceration with the Justice Department on June 24, and announced the filing at the National Press Club on Aug. 17, which would have been Garvey’s 129th birthday.
Supporters of the pardon are invited to add their signature before Sept. 28, at https://wh.gov/iLvaQ, and to share the petition using #justice4garvey.
Visit www.justice4garvey.org for additional information regarding the pardon.