Black Nationalism and Independence Movements
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
In the early part of the twentieth century, a new wave of black nationalism swept the country led by Marcus Garvey, the most significant of all the "classic" black nationalists. In 1914 Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Jamaica and in 1917 he came to Harlem, New York, bringing UNIA with him. The organization promoted blackness as a source of pride and beauty mainly through the promotion of black-owned businesses and a generally separatist ideology. At its height the UNIA was the largest organization of its kind with 700 branches scattered across the country and millions of members. Garvey's followers called themselves Garveyites and were known for organizing parades and wearing sharp military-style uniforms in order to show their racial pride. Garvey himself proved to be quite controversial but his teachings of black independence and pride had a profound influence on later black nationalists and activists.