Speech by Marcus Garvey
in the Black Man
ca. 25 September 1937]]
Mr. Chairman, Rev. [Jackson], Sirs,
Senator [Charles C.] Diggs,2 Mr.
[William] Sherrill, Mr. [William] Wallace,
members and officers of the U.N.I.A.,
friends from America and from Canada -
It is indeed inspiring to see and to receive the welcome that you have given me in this church in this remote city of our civilization. I come to you with as much of gladness as you have come to see and to listen to me. I may say, in short, that I am the same man you knew once (cheers). I haven't changed one bit, except probably in size, and that is because I am growing older (laughter). I have just passed my fiftieth birthday, so I am much older than when I met you fifteen years ago. And, by the way, I went to jail from Detroit3 (renewed laughter). I am here on the same serious business, and I want to talk to you to-night very seriously, as I have always tried to do, because the situation is very serious and very dangerous. You know of the U.N.I.A. in the old days, particularly from 1918-26. You have followed its career: you know much about it because its propaganda was spreading far and wide, but probably you do not know of the real U.N.I.A., which you are going to see, not only in the United States and Canada, but all over the world. Some of you thought the U.N.I.A. was a thing of the moment. The U.N.I.A. shall be as long as the race lives, as long as the ages for the principles are fundamental. The principles are founded upon a rock which prejudice cannot wash away or destroy, nor can injustice destroy.
I am just out of a Conference of that same organization that has a programme which is the second stage in the mighty work of the movement, a stage you know nothing of, because it was never reached [you]. Those of you who thought the U.N.I.A. was dead or is dead have made a terrible mistake. It hasn't started to live its reality yet. Things have had to happen [in t]he U.N.I.A. as to all movements of magnitude and s[igni]ficance as to the Church of Christ. It started on Cal[var]y and had a hard time up here. The time that we [a]re seeing in the U.N.I.A. is nothing to be compared with the time Christianity has had, days of blood, days of torture and crucifixion. Mr. Sherrill pointed out that I have been persecuted, but you will not know the real U.N.I.A. until thousands also can be named who have been persecuted for the cause of righteousness. The murders of the Church are many. Not only Christ was murdered. We cannot count the martyrs for they are numberless. Some of us are a little cowardly otherwise probably I would not be here tonight, but Mr. Sherrill told you how we have been trained. We have been out of our minds, not into our minds. In fact, we are living for the convenience of other people. I am to send back to you in America in another short while the first group of men and women who will be able to interpret to you the real U.N.I.A.
We held a Conference at Toronto from the 24th to the 31st August, which was attended by representatives from all sections of the United States, but among them were people who came from Canada and the United States to attend the summer school, which I am teaching there, from the 1st to the 31st September. The purpose was to train U.N.I.A. leaders. I have tried to train them and they are being well trained. I am proud of them. They will graduate on the 25th of this month. They will be sent back to you. I have given them all I know. I am trying to make everyone a Marcus Garvey personified. The new leadership of the U.N.I.A. shall be by and through men and women who have been particularly trained. That is the new U.N.I.A. I expect between now and the next Convention we will have at least trained men and women who will represent the U.N.I.A. The course that these people are taking includes 42 subjects bearing on the scope and the work of the U.N.I.A. Nothing has been left out. It is a course known as African Philosophy. The Philosophy that is particularly ours. This present civilisation was intended for you so that you should be subservient to it. It is a civilization backed up by philosophy that has been keenly and obediently postulated as to produce the best result for the particular people who postulate the philosophy. Do not think that the civilisation you see to-day is an accident. It was not built by chance. It was constructed and built upon a system of philosophy that the originators tested and proved to be the best in the development of the particular civilization that they want. You have fitted yourselves to it and do not realize how much a set of slaves you are. You will understand what I mean when 1 say African Philosophy. It is the peculiar and particular philosophy that is to emancipate you and me from the thraldom of other philosophers and these teachers shall go out and teach that philosophy as probably Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and more recent philosophers have taught. When you and I go to college and read the text books we come out just good enough slaves intellectually and mentally to serve the masters. The purpose of the U.N.I.A. is to emancipate and our primary duty is to emancipate your minds because it is the mind that makes the man, that directs him. It is the mind that makes the man, the race; and all that you see material, artistic and otherwise of nature is man's mind working upon Nature. What man has done man may do. My position is always independent because I was made independent. I wasn't made a Siamese twin but separate and distinct as a human unit, and I am appealing to all other Negro human units to think independently and then cooperatively, because as individuals created as such you must be a group separate and distinct as such. I challenge any man to say that man is not man. Man is the highest crea[ture] God made for this earth. I am talking of man, [the] lord, the master, the sovereign, the king of life. H[e is] but man irrespective of colour or race. There is [some]thing fundamental and that is that man is a standar[d] creature irrespective of his colour and above whom there is no creature on earth but God, and God is not a creature but a creator. We accept the theory and we have searched and looked around for millions of years and haven't discovered anything on this plane[t] higher yet than man. He looks like you and me, and if you tickle him he laughs. If you feed him he eats, if you starve him he dies, and if he doesn't get fresh air he stifles and dies. We have looked upon him in all colours. Even the great anthropologists cannot deny that man is man. Then if the world is man's given by the Creator to be lord and master and king for his happiness[,] for his abode, what is the matter with the black man, why he isn't master, lord and king. What is wrong? We don't want any communist to tell us what is wrong. We must tell the world what is wrong with ou[r] minds, because mind is master of the man. As a man thinketh, so is he.4 We think for ourselves. When we can no longer do this, we are absolute and positive slaves. The black man, negro, coloured man, must think for himself without apology. If you allow another man to think for you, you will follow him into the trap he has laid for you; because man is the most cruel creature walking on the face of the earth. You must trust no man but yourself. You must trust no race but your own. The whole world is a spider's web. Beware of the cobweb. Do not walk into the parlour. Stand on your own feet. You are a man. God made you individual man. Hold your ground. Lift your head and look only to a superior God but an equal man (cheers). I am not telling you to hate anybody. No; Love all mankind but love yourself first because mankind started with you. You are sure you are the first man, therefore you are the first person to be considered. Play the man yourself then we will have a united world of negro men (cheers). Playing each and everyone his part as we have a united white world playing each and every man his part. I am not criticising the white people. In fact, I am criticising the black man. I am a queer critic, but I am a logical one. Even God Almighty will justify and honour the white man for making use of the world and rebuke us for dealing with the world in our slipshod manner as he did the lazy virgins. God never said he made you slave and servant, but made you lord and master, and if you allow the other fellow to rob you by letting you to look behind while he grabs when you are not looking, you must not blame God for your ignorance. This world is yours, occupy it until God comes. We occupy the world by a system of Government, by drawing lines and boundaries of demarcation. There is nothing for you because you want nothing. You are waiting until the Lord comes (cheers) when the Lord told you I will help those who help themselves. Ask the white man what he wants most and he will tell you national power, material power, the power to rule the world and dominate men. What a difference is that from the Negro who only wants a piece of watermelon. We of the U.N.I.A. are no watermelon babies. We are men standing erect and looking God in the face and speaking as men. When we talk of African redemption the watermelon Negro thinks we are mad, but the serious Negro understands. Dr. Dubois [Du Bois] answered some years ago that he has lost nothing in Africa, but Mussolini has picked up a lot fifteen years after he said that, He made a war on the last sovereign state in Africa for the specific purpose - economic expansion for the Italian people and their industrial development. The specific purpose - he never hid it at all. He said Italy wanted raw materials. He hadn't sufficient to satisfy the Italian people and therefore there was a country in Africa called Abyssinia that could supply these requisites and he was willing to spend some one hundred and twenty million pounds and throw into the risk two million Italian lives to possess that thing that Dr. Dubois said he never lost but which was worth so much to the Italians as to have lost so much in man power and in the national wealth of their country. To-day they have made Abyssinia a thoroughfare from Somali to Eritrea.
After nine months of occupation they have carried engineers, scientists, searching for sulphur, gold, coal, aluminum[,] for all the minerals that they are told could be found in Abyssinia to be added to the wealth of the Roman Empire. Negroes are still hanging around looking for jobs. I am sure I have never seen a more imitative people in all my life. We are willing to imitate the white man in everything. After years of labour, building streets and steamships and railways and expanding throughout the land, building his hundreds and thousands of cities he comes at a late hour saying he has nothing more to do. He says we have no more to build because there are too many already. The lazy Negro who hasn't laid one brick yet for his Cathedral, one tie for his railroad track, yet he says "I am unemployed." Do you wonder after announcing that Mussolini got busy in Ethiopia so that the Italians can be employed. The thing I have been telling you for fifteen years in America is now being used by the Italians whilst you and I settle here saying we are unemployed. Do you know how the world is laughing at you and me[?] It is all well to dress up but do you know why he takes himself away from you on the sidewalk, because he says here comes a good-for-nothing. Anytime a Japanese comes in he wants to know what is in his mind but he hasn't to play diplomacy to the Negro[,] he just turns his back.
They kicked a bishop out of the Lobby of a Hotel in Edinburgh. It was Bishop Hurd [William Heard].5 The most respected men in England are Bishops. The moment he shows that he is a Bishop he is respected by every Englishman but the moment a black Bishop stepped in they knew he had no Cathedral, they knew he was only imitating white people so they kicked him out. (laughter) And as a fact the Bishop has no Cathedral. They only elected him Bishop and every Bishop is supposed to have a Cathedral. We are the world's laughingstock and we shall continue being so until we live like men, die like men. You see how the Japanese do things, the Italians, the Germans, the English, except us. Something must be wrong. Then we better find out what is wrong before judgment comes, because if God finds us in this state he is going to find us in Hell. (laughter) What have you to lay on the alt[a]r? The Englishman will bring the British Empire, the Italian will bring the Roman Empire, the German will bring the German Empire, the Japanese will bring the Japanese Empire, the Australian will bring the Australian Commonwealth, the Indians will bring the Indian Empire. The Negro will say "we have been watching and following them Lord. We come Lord." (loud laughter).
Between you and God only stands the Angels and that mind of yours is God's mind. I don't want to go into the Father Divine stuff but there is something about this Father Divine. He is intelligent enough to know that there is a God in man and not in Father Divine particularly. That God is what that scamp doesn't tell the people. He is part of God and that is how that man is fooling those who are too foolish to understand the relationship between God and man. Added to that spirit is the soul, a free soul, which the spirit of God always tries to direct. The spirit of God is always good. That spirit never dies and when you bow down that spirit before men you are debasing the spirit in you that is God because man was never intended to worship man but God. I haven't time to develop these theories, to set you thinking and realizing your importance. Every man is God walking on two feet. There is no man more so than the other. There is no man who can be so bad but he has the spirit of God in him. Do not cringe before other men because God will be vexed with you. I am not telling you in your limited intelligence to start being arrogant. Get intelligence. See that no man is more intelligent than you. So long as one man is more intelligent than you he will be your superior. Until you can produce what the white man has produced you will not be his equal. When you have built your cities, your cathedrals and know that you did it on your own initiative no man will turn his back on you. That is the philosophy taught in a nutshell by the U.N.I.A.
If you think anybody cares about you but yourself, that is in the absolute sense, you make a big mistake. As of the individual so of the race. If you think anybody thinks about your race you are deceiving yourself. No one person is going to love you more than he loves himself. He may say so every day until he gets what he wants. When a man wants a girl he tells her all kinds of lies until he gets married and starts to beat her up. There is no love, so out of your mother's children love yourself the best, and love your race the best. It is not a crime because God made you that way. Charity begins at home. God told you to start loving at home. You originally came from one common stock. Adam and Eve were black people and something happened that changed the complexion of one of the children. Somebody changed from you into somebody else. (laughter) Something is wrong somewhere. If you go into history properly you will find out that somebody has been lying somewhere. Stand up for yourselves and for your race. For God's sake stand up! Don't let anybody tell you that you are made to stay down. God could not damn you. He is a God of love, absolute intelligence. No ignorance, no fault in him. Do not behave foolishly to want none of this world and God gave and made the world for man. After God gave you the earth you said you did not want it, then complained about your bad condition. God is absolute. He does everything once and for all. He made you and the world once and He isn't going to make you over again. If God wanted you to be a white man he would have made you white. What a rebellious people you are. That is what Halle Selassie is saying[,] that in God's good time he will go back to Addis Ababa. If he had got mustard gas and fought back he would be in a better position today. When they started to shoot the Abyssinians he ran and the next thing we heard was that the Emperor was in England. Now he wants the Lord to carry him back and face the mustard gas for him. Let us have some sense and know that the U.N.I.A. is going to carry the work on. Your moral support, your financial support are necessary. Other men have battered me down but I am not vexed with them. I am vexed with you when you help them. They want the whole world and God will help them to get it because God helps those who help themselves. The best way to defeat your enemy is to give him a bad name, but surely I do not expect such reward or gratitude from you for whom I stand up. If you hadn't helped them Halle Selassie would not have bee[n in] England to-day. Italy never would have dared to [touc]h Abyssinia, because the Liberian scheme wou[ld h]ave been so far advanced that Mussolini would [have] been scared to touch a black kingdom, because [he] would have had an intellectual, political, scientific [p]ower that would have demanded respect from every man, but you lost your chance and Mussolini took it up and Hitler took it up. The U.N.I.A. was before Mussolini and Hitler ever were heard of. Mussolini and Hitler copied the programme of the U.N.I.A. - aggressive nationalism for the black man in Africa. Communism is the same and Fascism is the same. We hadn't the character to stand behind it but they adopted it. When the world started to test you out and started to make a buffoon of me you shouted out a sad hurrah. You revealed your weakness and the world climbed over you and we are still where we are. Whether it is Garvey or somebody else, when you get bolder stand by it. If you run away from it you will reveal your character and your weakness. When one Chinese or Japanese goes down others go up. We had Gandhi. When he went off the scene [Jawaharlal] Nehru6 came upon the scene and now Indians are controlling a large part of their own Government and the English have had to recognize their leadership. I am expecting God to give us courage and strength to redeem our race. At least you ought to have some confidence in your own. Even the worst of your own is better than the best of the other. The other man, however good he may be, he cannot see the common goodness between you. It is a policy of your own. There are books you have never seen. It is African Philosophy not platonic philosophy. It is going to be philosophy that will save this perishing race of ours. God bless you! (cheers)
Printed in BM 2, no. 8 (December 1937): 10-12.
Windsor is an industrial city in southeastern Ontario, Canada, located on the
Detroit River across from Detroit, Mich. (WNGD).
2. Charles C. Diggs (b. 1894) of Detroit was a Michigan state senator from the Third District. Born in the South, his father was a missionary to Africa and his mother a school teacher in rural Mississippi and Louisiana. Diggs was educated in Louisiana; married in Knoxville, Tenn.; and lived briefly in Detroit and Philadelphia before taking up permanent residence in Detroit. A professional undertaker with a successful family funeral home business, Diggs was a civic leader and an officer of several benevolent organizations. He was first elected to the State Senate on the Democratic ticket in 1936 and was re-elected in 1938. His namesake, Charles C. Diggs (b. 1922), also became a Michigan state senator. After beginning his political career on the state level, the younger Diggs was elected to U.S. Congress on the Democratic ticket in 1954. He became a leading proponent of civil rights legislation and affirmative action (Michigan Official Directory and Legislative Manual [Detroit: State of Michigan, 1939-1940], p. 601; NA).
3. Garvey was in Detroit in February 1925 when he received news that his conviction on mail fraud charges had been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals. He returned by train to New York City, where he was arrested and removed by federal marshalls to Atlanta Federal Penitentiary to begin serving his sentence (see Garvey Papers 6: 87-88 n. 1, 92-93, 93-94).
4. A reference to "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov, 23:7).
5. Bishop William Heard (b. 1850), religious leader, politician, and author, was born the son of slaves in Elbert county, Georgia, and educated at Atlanta University, Atlanta, and D. D. Allen University, Columbia, S.C. He served in the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1876. He was ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church ministry in 1879, became pastor of the Mount Zion A.M. E. Church in Charleston, S.C., and was elected bishop in 1904. He was a minister in residence and consul-general to Liberia in 1898-1899. He spent many years in Africa and presided over the 13th Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Church, a district that included the Gold Coast, Liberia, and Sierre Leone. In 1887, Bishop Heard filed charges against a railroad company in Georgia after being removed from the first-class section of a passenger train upon arrival in Atlanta on a trip from Cincinnati (NYT, 3 July 1887; WWCA).
6. Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), Indian nationalist, was secretary of the Indian National Congress (1929-1938) and became the first prime minister of India (1947-1964). His father, Motilal Nehru (1861-1931), was also an activist in the nationalist movement, a president of the Indian National Congress (in 1920), and founder of the nationalist paper, The Independent. His daughter, Indira Nehru Gandhi, became prime minister of India in 1966 (Michael Edwardes, Nehru: A Political Biography [London: Penguin, 1971]; WBD).
The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, edited by Robert A. Hill (University of California Press 1983), vol. 7, pp. 781-787.