The Black Woman
by Marcus Mosiah Garvey
Black queen of beauty, thou hast given color to the world!
Among other women thou art royal and the fairest!
Like the brightest of jewels in the regal diadem,
Shin'st thou, Goddess of Africa, Nature's purest emblem!
Black men worship at thy virginal shrine of truest love,
Because in thine eyes are virtue's steady and holy mark,
As we see in no other, clothed in silk or fine linen,
From ancient Venus, the Goddess, to mythical Helen.
When Africa stood at the head of the elder nations,
The Gods used to travel from foreign lands to look at thee:
On couch of costly Eastern materials, all perfumed,
Reclined thee, as in thy path flow'rs were strewn-
sweetest that bloomed.
Thy transcendent marvelous beauty made the whole world mad,
Bringing Solomon to tears as he viewed thy comeliness;
Anthony and the elder Caesars wept at thy royal feet,
Preferring death than to leave thy presence, their foes to meet.
You, in all ages, have attracted the adoring world,
And caused many a bloody banner to be unfurled:
You have sat upon exalted and lofty eminence,
To see a world fight in your ancient African defense.
Today you have been dethroned, through the weakness of your men,
While, in frenzy, those who of yore craved your smiles and your hand-
Those who were all monsters and could not with love approach you-
Have insulted your pride and now attack your good virtue.
Because of disunion you became mother of the world,
Giving tinge of robust color to five continents,
Making a greater world of millions of colored races,
Whose claim to beauty is reflected through our black faces.
From the handsome Indian to European brunette,
There is a claim for that credit of their sunny beauty
That no one can e'er to take from thee, 0 Queen of all
Who have borne trials and troubles and racial burden.
Once more we shall, in Africa, fight and conquer for you,
Restoring the pearly crown that proud Queen Sheba did wear:
Yea, it may mean blood, it may mean death; but still we shall fight,
Bearing our banners to Vict'ry, men of Afric's might.
Superior Angels look like you in Heaven above,
For thou art fairest, queen of the seasons, queen of our love:
No condition shall make us ever in life desert thee,
Sweet Goddess of the ever green land and placid blue sea.
Message From UNIA & ACL General Counsel
President General Senghor Jawara Baye
We call on all Africans . . . those at home and those abroad . . . to join us as we continue this great 98-year legacy. Building this 21st century government is no easy task, however we can, we must, we will, for the future of our children and those to follow depend on it.
Today our Race is in need of practical solutions to our many problems around the world. Self-Determination and Self-Reliance are the cornerstones to the development of the 21st Century for the African Race. Africa is the richest continent in the world . . . with its many earthly resources. Today we have Africans and those of African descent scattered all over the world.
The UNIA-ACL is working to bring us closer together, despite the waters between us on all seven continents. We are interfacing and unifying with many other progressive Race First movements, institutions, businesses and organizations around the world to form practical unity without uniformity. We all have far too much in common and so few minor differences . . . we can't afford not to work collectively and cooperatively together as one people. Those yielding power in this world shall only concede to those with power, therefore it is critical that we increase our numbers. Marcus Garvey and the 20th century UNIA-ACL organizers knew this and now is the time for us to emulate this to the fullest. We must also utilize modern technological science and focus on building sustainable energy development, using solar energy, wind, and water purification methods the world over. Our Mother earth has been abused far too long due to greed and the ignorance of mankind. Therefore a more positive, environmentally friendly direction must remain foremost on our 21st century agenda. We encourage all to grow their own organic foods and stay away from cross-breed dangerous foods. Support Black farmers and Buy Black as often as possible.
The UNIA-ACL now needs you to join with us as we carry on the mandates of this current administration to do your part. We shall continue to honor the works, words and deeds of our ancestors. We are committed to restructure the UNIA-ACL for the 21st century, utilize our own creative genius and maintain the utmost integrity in serving Africans . . . those at home and those abroad. We have withstood attacks from without and within, learned from our own mismanagement and survived the apathy of our race thru the 20th century up to today. Now we must advance even further than where we are and we have lots of work to do. Far too many of our own children are still crying and dying all over the world and there is a need for a solid United States of Africa as Garvey and Nkrumah sacrificed and committed their lives for. Africa Unite for Africa is for Africans . . . those at home and those abroad. Up You Mighty Race We Can Accomplish What We Will!
One God, One Aim, One Destiny!
I-Nia (Reginia) Rogers
UNIA & ACL General Counsel
Centennial Planning Committee Chair
I am a Black Woman
Tall as a Cypress
Strong beyond all definition
Still defying place and time and circumstances
Assailed, impervious, indestructible
Look on me and be renewed!
Though there were many “historical” attempts to hide the facts of the “birthplace” of human civilization and to pretend that this “cradle” was in Greece, there is much archeological proof today that humankind began on the shores of and within the land of Mother Africa! And, as women have always been one-half of the process of creation of life, it is clear that the role of women has always been integral to life.
The timeless words above most definitely describe the Black/African woman from the beginnings of history, straight through today. Black/African women have been the backbone of the African Race. By necessity since we were the original creators of the entirety of the civilization, the role of women from time immemorial is paramount and unprecedented! We bring life to the human race and it is by the process of our “birthings” that life, ideas, concepts and thoughts are created!
Though March has been celebrated as Women’s History Month in the United States only since the early 1900s, in African societies, respect for the woman was woven into the very fabric of the society. In the ancient Egyptian and Kush societies, the woman was portrayed as the gatherer of berries, grains, seeds, roots and plants thereby showing the connection between the woman, the creator of life, and the seeds which sprouted to life when they fell to the ground. Also, the matriarchal systems that existed allowed the mother to give their surname to the children; the woman was also the ruler and controller of the household and the fields – the two most important aspects of the society. There are even historical facts demonstrating that there were laws that the Queen Mother had the responsibility for naming the next Pharoah! This foundation and the power of women in ancient times helped to confer a great deal of respect for women. It was not until foreign invasions and times of colonialism that the role of women and the respect to be given to them diminished.
In this issue, you will get to read about the Women in the UNIA-ACL. How fitting to celebrate this aspect of the UNIA-ACL in the time of this Centennial! There are thousands of role models amongst our people – female ancestors and present-day women – to whom we can turn for inspiration and guidance. And, we all have at least one woman in our lives to whom we should be eternally grateful – our own Mothers! Thus, we learn and practice in the UNIA-ACL to revere women as Queens!
We urge each of you to plan to join us at the Centennial Celebration where you will have the opportunity to learn about the historical work of the Queens of our Race! You will share with us in uplifting those Mothers, Queens and Sisters – ancient and present – who transformed their societies and the world. These women, complementing their male counterparts, worked to ensure that the harmony between the males and females remained and balanced each other.
We will join together, females and males, Queens and Kings, to celebrate the grand history of the greatest mass movement of our people. Together we can remember, recall and reflect on this history and how together we can work to ensure that the historical work already done is now utilized to bring about the dreams of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey to bring about a Blessed world of women and men. Make sure you plan to join us there!
Kathy English-Holt, UNIA & ACL
Ambassador of Health & Wellness USA
Women in the Garvey Movement, we thank you.
These are women who stand for something. They stand for race pride, for Pan African Consciousness. They stand for tradition, for group solidarity. They stand for the aged, the infants and the children. They stand for self-love.
These women were leaders and workers in the UNIA who contributed to the upliftment of their people and were card-carrying members who CHOSE to be members of the UNIA. Many were helpmates – the wives and daughters of men who were Garveyites. They ARE the UNIA. They are the backbone.
Women have been in the UNIA from its inception in Jamaica in 1914. Women have held and presently do hold every position at every level in the UNIA. They are the organizers, writers, thinkers and doers. They are the secretaries, the assistant secretaries, the lady presidents, Black Cross Nurses, the Motor Corp and contributors to the The Negro World and Garvey’s Voice. These are the women behind the men and the mother of the sons and daughters of the Garvey Movement. They are the ones on the front lines organizing and they are the ones at home ministering to the aged, the children and the babies. They raised the money for bails and funerals and served as the social workers, the teachers and the nurses in the hospitals. They were the chauffeurs, the filmmakers, the business owners, government workers, cooks, poets, actors and dancers and healers in the community. These are the women of the UNIA.
Amy Ashwood was only 17 when she met Garvey in 1914. After completing four years of travel in Latin America and Europe, Marcus Mosiah Garvey was a practiced speaker and debater. His travels heightened his sorrow for the conditions of Africans around the globe and he was convinced that organizing the people would help to alleviate the problem. He founded the UNIA shortly after his return to Jamaica just shorfly after meeting Amy Ashwood at a debate where she was a principal speaker. Amy became the first member of the UNIA after Garvey. She did what women do – organized dinners for the elderly in Kingston and visited the sick in the hospital. She debated and recited poetry at the meetings and she became secretary of the ladies’ division. After traveling with Garvey throughout North America and helping to build the organization, they eventually married in 1919 but in less than a year the marriage was on the rocks. She fraternized with other men and meanwhile in Garvey’s employ was Amy Jacques.
Amy Jacques was not only his secretary, but his wife’s friend and roommate and maid of honor at their wedding. After Ashwood and Garvey;s separation, Amy Jacques and Garvey became closer friends and upon Garvey’s divorce they wed. Amy Ashwood continued to claim her role as Garvey’s wife as she went on to found another organization in London including prominent Nigerians and other West Africans. Later Amy Ashwood opened a restaurant in London frequented by Pan African Activists such as C.L.R. James and Jomo Kenyatta. Later still as Mrs. Garvey she made her sojourn to Africa where she was welcomed by the Ashanti clan satisfying her quest for her African roots. Never relinquishing the name of Mrs. Garvey, Amy Ashwood went on to found other organizations that never took root; she returned to Jamaica to live out her later years in relative poverty but not in anonymity. Amy Ashwood was present for the first UNIA meeting in Jamaica in 1914 and attended the Fifth Pan African Congress in 1945. She was a woman of the UNIA whose life encompassed the Pan-African Movement of the twentieth century.
In 1923 Amy Jacques published The Philosophies and Opinions of Marcus Garvey and in her words, “I had to make speaking tours, collecting money in order to publish them because at that time no White publisher would publish anything from the pen of Marcus Garvey or about Marcus Garvey that was factual and truthful. Long after Garvey’s death in 1963, she published Garvey and Garveyism, the life of Garvey as told by her firsthand account. In 1966 she published a series of articles in a little booklet including “Black Poewr in America”, “The Impact of Garvey on Africa and Jamaica” and finally, “The Power of the Human Spirit”. Each time she wrote she had to beg and plead for money to publish these works.
What does it mean to have a man in the movement? For Amy Jacques Garvey, second wife of Marcus Mosiah it meant so many things. Being with him and being without him. Being with him as he toured, she gave “speechettes” before he gave the speeches. For Amy, it was traveling in first class and being recognized the world over as the wife of a leader of his people. It was receiving the best treatment – even like royalty as followers greeted them in cities throughout the world. These followers provided for her family as they lived through the profits of the UNIA’s many economic enterprises and the donations from the growing membership of an organization that once had 14 million followers with paid staff and international organizers. But then there were the long periods of being without him – times when she traveled doing speaking tours to raise money for his defense throughout the US, Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. And there were the times when she visited him in jail with a gun in her bag.
What is it like when, as the wife of the man who leads the greatest movement of Black people in the world, you are faced with raising your children alone on little to no money from your husband because he is incarcerated or unable to enter ports throughout the world? What is it like when the depression comes and the numbers of UNIA members’ dollars dry up . . . the businesses having long since folded causing you to draw down on your family’s inheritance to provide for your family? You do as Black women do. You survive, get creative and press on.
Amy Jacques believed that the Negro woman was the backbone of the race. She was a personal witness to all the work women had done in the UNIA as they served in the Black Cross Nurse Corp and other women’s auxiliaries that sponsored the UNIA’s many social and recreational programs. She believed women had a “purifying effect on politics” because of their self-sacrificing maternal roles. She knew women were well-trained to serve others. And as time passed, Amy Jacques came to believe that one day women will rule men and “that the world will then be a better place to live.” She saw to it that the UNIA did not discriminate in the filling of any UNIA position. And as THE one who kept the Garvey Movement alive during its most trying years after his death, she worked on the message of Garvey in their home of Jamaica until her death.
In 1925 when the organization was splintering and in huge disarray, in stepped Madame De Mena of San Carlos, Nicaragua. While in the Atlanta penitentiary, Garvey appointed Madame De Mena as an organizer with her primary responsibility to assist Amy Jacques as she traveled the country keeping Garvey’s dream alive. While serving as Spanish translator, De Mena saw that many thought Garveyism was dead, but she believed in Garvey and became an effective organizer and fundraiser. On a salary of $25.00 per week, Garvey sent her on a tour of Central American and the Caribbean to rally the troops. She organized the 1929 convention leading the convention parade on horseback, brandishing a sword and afterwards was appointed to head all the US branches. This was no small task since the US divisions were in chaos, disarray, confusion and dissension. De Mena believed that it was only by working with the UNIA women that the UNIA could be salvaged in the United States. At that time, women formed a large percentage of the membership so why shouldn’t they take charge?! De Mena, like Jacques Garvey, called for the empowerment and leadership of Black women.
For De Mena, a social worker, the message was that Black Love could best be demonstrated through unity and service. She says, “Without love the world is a very dreary place to live in, thus the security of a nation, individual or race is the full consciousness of his service to his neighbor.” Where Garvey saw us as millionaires deserving of status and recognition as African kings and queens, De Mena extolled that our worth was not of dollars but in being of service to others, racial unity and love. For her the way to save the organization was to work with the women forming bonds and raising money and acting as a community organizer. In New Orleans alone she added 42 members.
Share the joy
Share the joy
Share the joy of peace within
Take the good news of salvation
To the last one you may find
Share the joy
Share the joy
These are the words of the theme song of the Black Cross nurses who are still in existence in Belize. To this day, these women hold Mother’s Day Teas and Father’s Day breakfasts. They raise money through selling turkey dinners and homemade soup. They visit the shut-in and package food and toiletries to give to the elderly. They host training courses in Home Health Care, Geriatrics and HIV/AID. And, of course, they hold an annual Christmas Party. Over 50 children in the community eat a good meal that night and receive gifts of apples and grapes from Santa Claus. Over 70 shut-ins receive packages with food, fruits, cake and a gift. Continuing the tradition of Garvey, these women care for the sick and promote preventative medicine. The Black Cross Nurses produce and distribute pamphlets on safety and accident prevention. Back in the day, girls at 14 years old were prepared to join the Nurses Corp. Educating and nurturing children were a component of the UNIA. Children were taught to pray, they were disciplined and they were taught African history in addition to the philosophy and history of the UNIA.
Queen Mother James was a life-long member of the organization, wife of the Honorable Charles L. James and the loving mother of the movement. She shaped the minds of many who sat at her feet. She was organized, efficient, loving and spiritual. She knew every President General since Garvey. Division 332 is named for her to continue her legacy.
These are just a few of the women of the UNIA. Women were and are necessary to prepare the Black people of tomorrow. That is what women do. We are in the business of caregiving and uplifting causes. We tend to the sick, the infirmed, the elderly, the orphaned, the mentally ill, the children, the men, the entire Black community and as we know, a great portion of the White community as well. We hold our communities together, as we smooth the brows and caress the heads of our family members, our church members and our organizational sisters and brothers as we work through the grief, loss, shock, strain and pain within our communities. We call on that which lives deep inside of us, our spiritual reservoir, the God of our Fathers and our Mothers, to gain strength to move forward when our bodies and our hearts ache from carrying the burden for many. We celebrate, we nurture, we grant understanding and forgiveness, offer support and mostly, WE LOVE!
True women of the UNIA, remember that the UNIA is a spiritual organization and in spiritual organizations, love is the answer. The spirit of love can heal an individual, a family, a people, a nation and a world. Love can break through barriers, heal disease and make a way out of no way. These women knew that and for this, we give thanks!
“The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity.” ― Marcus Garvey
MARK YOUR CALENDARS!