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Grassroots GarveyismThe Universal Negro Improvement Association in the Rural South, 1920-1927$

Mary G. Rolinson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780807830925

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807872789_rolinson

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(p.72) 3 Growth
Grassroots Garveyism

Mary G. Rolinson

University of North Carolina Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the structure of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in the South on a state-by-state basis. It documents the spread of UNIA divisions, both geographically and chronologically, by focusing on the publicized activities of important southern divisions, as well as the steps taken by national, regional, and local organizers in the region. The chapter analyzes these patterns in order to understand when and how the UNIA spread, along with the dynamics of organization in rural areas. It also considers the role played by the Negro World in establishing the essential link between Marcus Garvey and the southern UNIA divisions and in addressing topics important to southern blacks. Finally, the chapter discusses issues that were given emphasis by Negro World, including the labor crisis in southern agriculture, lynching and the Ku Klux Klan, and the persistence of white racism.

Keywords:   blacks, Universal Negro Improvement Association, South, Negro World, Marcus Garvey, labor crisis, agriculture, lynching, Ku Klux Klan, white racism

The truth is that Garvey aroused the Negroes of Georgia as much as those of New York, except where the black preacher discouraged anything that threatened his income, or where white domination smothered every earthly hope.—E. Franklin Frazier, The Nation, 18 August 1926

In his first year of organizing in the United States, Garvey took a logical and practical approach in deciding how to expand the unia. The New York division took off, word spread to Philadelphia, and soon the Negro World and enthusiastic leaders and recruiters mobilized black activism throughout urban centers of black population. Always studying and estimating his options, Garvey undoubtedly noticed that in the North and West, most blacks lived in urban areas, particularly in large cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Detroit. All four of these cities had fewer than 100,000 blacks in 1910 but experienced dramatic increases by 1920. Detroit grew from about 6,000 to 40,000 black residents in a decade, and New York grew from 92,000 to 152,000 in the same period.1 Garvey and unia organizers staked out territory with these crucial variables in mind. They concentrated on areas where the unia and the idea of the Black Star Line gained the most rapid acceptance. Garvey's two earliest divisions emerged, not surprisingly, in the two most accessible cities, New York and Philadelphia, both brimming with black migrants from the South; however, within a year the unia organ had begun to circulate in the most remote farming communities of the Deep South.

Early in 1917, on an exploratory mission, Garvey spoke in Nashville, Tennessee, and at Big Bethel ame Church in Atlanta, Georgia.2 These early forays into the heart of Dixie enhanced his understanding of the potential for organization and support among southern blacks. By the time the unia had taken hold in the more easily accessible urban areas of the North and South, the rural Black Belt became the next focus for organization. The most expansive growth areas for the unia emerged in very densely populated rural areas of the South in which blacks made up the majority and where cotton tenancy circumscribed the lives of much of the farming population.

It is also apparent that the skill and determination of individuals at the regional and local levels had much to do with where (p.73) the UNIA sprouted successful divisions. Ultimately, the Garvey movement spread into the South due to the work of these local and national organizers and with the aid of expanding literacy and the UNIA's weekly organ, the Negro World. Examining chronological patterns of development for divisions within the eleven southern states helps to illuminate which of these influences had the greatest impact. In some cases a dynamic speaker from UNIA headquarters motivated a community to organize a division, while in other places a popular local minister's leadership held sway. In many instances an indigenous layman or woman took the initiative to begin a UNIA branch.

The UNIA appointed high commissioners for twelve sections of the United States, who were held responsible for organizing and supervising the work of divisions within their areas.3 Some individual states had designated leaders who tended to work closely with the regional commissioners. Early on, as seen in the cases of Florida and Virginia, the variety of settings from which UNIA divisions arose, coupled with the differing styles of organizers, allowed for diverse forms and expressions of Garveyite sentiment throughout the region. But more important, over time the Negro World provided a remarkable consistency of themes and programs, while the UNIA constitution and the Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World, also referred to as the Negro Bill of Rights, adopted at the 1920 convention, provided guidelines and standardization to Garveyism from one UNIA division to the next.4

During its publication from August 1918 through 1933, the entire front page of the UNIA weekly organ normally featured Garvey's speeches and editorials.5 This medium was the most vital instrument in the dispersal of Garvey's ideas and programs and in the growth of the UNIA in the South. The paper's content influenced a wide and diverse readership within the black communities of the African diaspora, while it also reflected attitudes and community values that differed according to local and regional conditions. Three thousand copies of the Negro World's first issue appeared in the second half of 1918 and, after six months of publication, its circulation reached near 50,000.5 In a sense, the UNIA organ provided both the spark that ignited the ideological inferno of Garveyism and the fuel that sustained it from week to week.

Among African Americans in the 1920s printed sources and especially newspapers provided the most effective method for the dissemination of information and ideas. The southern black press flourished at the local level in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, generally as a recorder of church news and social activities. The black Baptist press, especially, had over forty serials in circulation, which included topics discussed at the denomination's (p.74) annual conventions. Anticipating the women's page, a feature of the Negro World, some included a woman's column, which indicated at least an acknowledgment of women as important participants in the black community and even revealed hints of their ever-growing assertiveness.7

The most influential and widely distributed black interest periodicals in the United States during the late nineteenth century were the Indianapolis Freeman, the New York Age, and the AME Christian Recorder. Of remarkable notoriety, especially in the South, was the long-running newsletter of the American Colonization Society, the African Repository.8 Black people acknowledged literacy as a critical component of education and advancement and frequently emphasized the need to make excellent African American newspapers available to children and others in every home.9 More protest-oriented black journals emerged in the twentieth century, particularly in the wartime years, and they came in national editions. Robert Vann's Pittsburgh Courier, Robert Abbott's Chicago Defender, and the NAACP's Crisis, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois, documented much of the postWorld War I agitation in which blacks participated at the national level.10 The Negro World joined these other important papers as a vital source of information and news of the black world beyond local communities.11

It is no mystery why the UNIA leader put such emphasis on producing an interesting and unique propaganda organ. Garvey had learned the printing trade as a young teen in his native Jamaica and had cut his teeth as an organizer of the printers' union there. After starting several short-lived publications, he came to the United States knowing the profound potential of the printed word.12 Most black southerners probably first heard of Garvey and Garveyism through the Negro World. Its originality helped it gain early attention wherever it was distributed, and it stood apart from the other race papers in its format. The Negro World placed Garvey's ideas on the front page, not in editorials in the back section after the news. It was clearly designed to serve as the mouthpiece of Garvey and the organ of the UNIA. Despite this distinct purpose, it enjoyed acceptance beyond UNIA membership. Letters to the editor often noted that readers cherished the paper even though they were not affiliated with the organization.

The Defender's editorial bent promoted migration to the North and black involvement in politics. The paper and its influential editor, Robert Abbott, a native of coastal Georgia, achieved their greatest popularity in the years during and immediately after World War I. Abbott's paper reached more than 230,000 copies in 1915, and circulation peaked at 283,571 in 1920.13 He maintained a keen interest in the fortunes of black southerners and included much (p.75) pertinent information for his southern readers. He replicated the standard newspaper format, using the editorial page in the back to express his sentiments on issues of the day, including discrimination, politics, and racial violence.

Although never so widely distributed in the South as the Defender, the Negro World did reach into the region's hinterlands. The white justice of the peace in tiny Wabbaseka, Arkansas, R. J. Watlcins, complained to the U.S. Bureau of Investigation of the radical content of the Negro World and the Defender, claiming “there is no danger immediate or otherwise from our old time darkey but from the present younger crowd.” Watlcins made these complaints through an Arkansas attorney in hopes that both papers could be legally suppressed. Watlcins attached to the complaint a 22 February 1919 issue of the Negro World, which had likely been intercepted as it passed through the Wabbaseka postal system, where Watlcins's daughter served as postmistress.14

Garvey's front page would have been hard to ignore, as it was often filled with bold headlines such as “The Negro Race Must Assert Its Manhood and Power” or “The Common People Ruling the World.”15 There were no attempts to make the authorship of Garvey's opinions ambiguous. Each reprinted speech, letter, or editorial bore Garvey's name so that readers would never confuse his words with someone else's.

The Negro World saved tantalizing news stories about lynchings and other race-related violence for the inside pages of the paper, while the Defender used shocking stories up front to boost its readership.16 The difference in the formats indicated the varying functions and appeals of the two popular national black papers of the early 1920s. Garvey's was made to build and propel an ideological movement and thus contained the essential ideas on its cover. On its subsequent pages, it contained race-related news items, reports from divisions, and information about fund-raising, with occasional human interest stories toward the back. Contributors to various UNIA causes could see their names and town addresses on extensive lists printed in the paper along with the amounts they donated. Most of these contributions were nickels and dimes from people of meager means. At various stages of the movement, a woman's page edited by Amy Jacques Garvey, the leader's wife, and Spanish and French pages filled out the back section. During convention weeks, the Negro World provided detailed descriptions of the proceedings and transcripts of debates among convention delegates. By contrast, the Defender included more news, politics, sports, and social fare while emphasizing the better opportunities and jobs for blacks in the North.

Probably anyone who could read would have been interested in the contents (p.76) of both papers. John Hope Franklin, the eminent African American historian, recalled people avidly reading the Negro World during his childhood in the all-black village of Rentiesville, Oklahoma.17 And the news, as it does at any time, formed the basis for numerous conversations and debates. Newspapers were passed around in black households and communities, and subscription numbers usually represented as little as one-fourth of the actual readership. Conversations among coworkers, families, churchgoers, and social club members transmitted the news from the Defender and the Negro World to even larger audiences.18 In small southern towns these papers were regarded as a lifeline to the wider world. Sometime shortly after the UNIA's first convention, Susie Wilder of Chunchula in southwest Alabama wrote the following to the Negro World editor: “Although it has been only a short time that we have been receiving your paper, it seems as one of the family. We look forward to its coming with as much joy as we do to one of us, and there is not much done until it is read through and through.”19

Black Pullman porters and others in the YazooMississippi Delta circulated the Negro World and the Defender despite the opposition of whites. Greenville was a major distribution site, and hundreds of copies disappeared quickly and quietly when they reached the area by train. Personal accounts recalled that “Negroes grab the Chicago Defender like a hungry mule grabs fodder” and “even the sharecroppers are subscribers.”20 The editor of the white newspaper the Natchez Mississippi Democrat recognized the popularity of the UNIA and Negro World in the Deep South when he wrote, “[T]he work of such charlatans as Marcus Garvey among illiterate Negroes is building up a low prejudice against whites in all sections of the country. Ignorant Negroes of the South are now pouring thousands of dollars into Garvey's coffers every year, on the belief that he is going to establish a home and a government for them somewhere in Africa.”21 Both papers raised objections from some white members of local southern communities, however. The Defender, because of its wider circulation and because of its promotion of migration from the South, met the most regional opposition.22 Nevertheless, both of these papers evidently enjoyed comprehensive circulation and discussion in almost every urban and rural southern black community.

A natural competition for readers and support emerged between Abbott and Garvey and eventually caused a rift between them. The Chicago-based editor joined critics of the Garvey movement and incurred the wrath of the UNIA leader. Disparaging stories and editorials about Garvey and the Black Star Line threatened to inhibit the UNIA's growth, and Garvey singled out (p.77) Abbott for legal action. Numerous issues of the Negro World devoted space to forceful criticism of Abbott and his supposedly insidious libel.23

One of Garvey's challenges in keeping the UNIA growing in the South, an area that provided a major constituency of the Defender, required him successfully to defend and vindicate himself in the pages of his own paper. Garvey often dramatized his persecution whenever he was questioned or opposed by an individual or group. His continued popularity in the South suggests that his self-characterization as the favorite target of those he called “race traitors,” like Abbott, influenced a sizable number of southern supporters.24 Even after several years of controversy in print, Mrs. J. W. Johnson of Albany, Georgia, presented her view to Negro World readers in the paper's “People's Forum.” Although she was not a UNIA member, she loved Marcus Garvey and believed his paper should “be in every Negro home.”25 And despite the rivalry and eventual enmity of their editors, the Defender and the Negro World coexisted and prospered in the South, one encouraging migration and the other Garvey ism. In the same way that the Defender spurred a significant number of southern blacks to move north, the Negro World provided a proportional number the will to remain in their homes in the Southland.

Editors of the Negro World

The larger-than-life persona and problems of Marcus Garvey exert a powerful pull on scholars examining the Garvey movement, creating a distraction from the impact its ideology had on participants and their communities. While the force of his charisma made the UNIA successful, the centrality of one man's fate also made the movement vulnerable. Yet the simple fact that Marcus Garvey could not possibly have created a movement with the scope of the UNIA without help is often overlooked. In fact, the hard work of organizing and publicizing the million-plus group in America was handled by hundreds of unselfish and determined people who adopted Garvey's breathtaking vision of black uplift. In addition, several of the most dedicated servants of the movement willingly gave all of the credit to its visionary leader, even though a number of them directly influenced the success of the UNIA's philosophy and direction.

It is extremely important in studying the UNIA in the South, an area where Garvey made few personal appearances and where local divisions were stripped of the pageantry of the larger divisions in urban areas outside the South, that we recognize its most critical organizers and propagandizers. For the southern region, the most important of these participants were the editors of the (p.78) Negro World. Because the paper was the only point of contact with the organization for numerous rural southern divisions, its editorial content must not be neglected here. Garvey, who had ample experience as a publisher and printer before the Negro World debuted in Harlem in 1918, delegated the editorship of the UNIA's organ at various times to extremely competent and loyal people such as William Henry Ferris and to his second wife, Amy Jacques Garvey. He also persuaded Hubert Harrison, a leading Harlem organizer, and two immensely qualified and respected journalists, John Edward Bruce and Timothy Thomas Fortune, to help define the editorial content of the paper during its most crucial years.

The Negro World's first editor was W. A. Domingo, a Jamaican with whom Garvey had a close relationship but also specific conflicts over Domingo's radical editorial bent. The UNIA leader brought Domingo in front of the executive committee, charging the editor with expressing views inconsistent with UNIA goals in his Negro World editorials. By July 1919 Domingo had left the UNIA organ and affiliated with several socialist journals.26 The Negro World's next editor was not a West Indian radical, but an American. William Ferris was a scholar, minister, writer, and journalist and had all the credentials of the most elite and educated members of African American society. Ferris was forty-two years old when the UNIA was incorporated in New York. A native of New Haven, Connecticut, he held A.B. and M.A. degrees from Yale. He also received a master's degree from Harvard University and spent two additional years in Cambridge as a divinity student. He served his first pastorate at the Congregational church in Wilmington, North Carolina, between 1905 and 1910. His connections there no doubt contributed heavily to the UNIA's early organizational success in southeastern North Carolina. In 1910 he returned to the North to lead two AME Zion mission churches in Massachusetts.27

Ferris met Marcus Garvey in 1917 while working at Chicago's Champion Magazine. There he no doubt became familiar with many aspects of popular journalism as well as the editorial practices of the most popular black daily in America, the Chicago Defender. Ferris's other experience included serving as assistant to R. R. Wright Jr., editor of the Philadelphia-based AME publication, the Christian Recorder. This weekly had the longest continuous run of any black journal in America and a large southern readership. Ferris's tenure there came on the heels of the death of AME bishop Henry McNeal Turner, an immensely influential voice for black nationalism and emigrationism.28

Perhaps because Ferris spread himself thin, holding many different positions and living in so many regions of the United States, he is not as well known as his credentials warrant. But the extent of his travel around the (p.79) United States, and the close observation and study of African Americans he carried out while researching his book The African Abroad; or, His Evolution in Western Civilization: Tracing His Development Under Caucasian Milieu (1913), surely served him well in catering to a national and even international black audience as literary editor of the Negro World. And indeed his success at promoting the Garvey movement through the UNIA organ was his most note-worthy accomplishment.

In his scholarly writing Ferris reviewed the “deeds, achievements, and progress of the colored race in Africa, Europe, Hayti, the West Indies and America.”29 In his choice of subject matter he was thinking and studying in the same vein as his fellow members of the American Negro Academy and the Negro Society for Historical Research. The ancient Egyptians and the Empire of Songhay were recalled and recounted alongside famous men of African ancestry through the Middle Ages to the present. In several chapters he analyzed the inadequacy of the leadership of either Booker T. Washington or W. E. B. Du Bois and in another lamented the lack of motivation in members of his race, pleading with them to “stop whining and buckle down to hard work.”30 From Ferris's perspective, although delayed in their progress and leaderless when The African Abroad was published in 1913, black people's fortunes changed dramatically within five years. Ferris found the inspirational leader he had hoped for when he met Garvey.31 In 1919 Garvey asked him to become literary editor of the Negro World, a position he held until September 1923.32

Because we have Ferris's book, we can learn his philosophy and opinions on many pertinent race-related questions and then look for them in the Negro World issues he edited. It is very obvious through such a comparison just how influential Ferris was over the UNIA organ's content. Much of Ferris's philosophy of history can be found in the early issues of the Negro World, and this ideology, which permeated editorials and guided the selection of news articles, came to represent “Garveyism.” Randall K. Burkett has explained that Ferris's Social Darwinist belief system led him to praise the Anglo-Saxon race for its aggressive pursuit of economic and political power and even to encourage blacks to emulate whites in pursuing similar goals for the Negro race.33 This racialist and civilizationist perspective, although thoroughly out of favor in today's thought, was influential and pervasive during the Progressive Era. Popular white authors of the period, such as Thomas Dixon Jr. in The Clansman (1905) and The Leopard's Spots 1902, promoted notions of inherent white chivalry and purity while demonizing black people as brutal and ruthless savages. Ferris used the same race-centered model to argue a completely (p.80) different position: that Negroes as a race could contribute much to civilization by counteracting the materialistic and unchristian tendencies of other races through their “spiritual and emotional qualities which can soften human nature.”34 By way of explaining the brutality of whites, Ferris argued that it was only to be expected; since “the Caucasian races have had to struggle, strive and fight to get where they are, it is but natural that the strenuous rather than the natural aspects of human nature should be developed in them.”35

In his late twenties and early thirties, Ferris lived in Florida and North Carolina and traveled all over the South and eastern seaboard states while researching The African Abroad.is In this 1913 publication Ferris weighed in harshly on his black brethren and lamented what he considered the emasculation that southern white society had imposed on black men. Without knowing it himself, Ferris foreshadowed controversial UNIA rhetoric and strategies for black and white relations in the South. At the same time he encouraged manliness and courage, he recommended caution and pragmatism:

The main reason why the Negro is despised and looked down upon by his Anglo-Saxon neighbors is not because of his color and hair, his illiteracy and poverty, but because he and his ancestors so tamely and cowardly submitted to chattel slavery. As many degrees as the race rises in manliness and courage, just so many degrees will the thermometer of the AngloSaxon's respect, admiration and appreciation for the Negro rise. I do not mean that colored leaders should wave the bloody shirt and stir up race riots in the South…. It is advisable for the Southern Negro, who is in the lion's den, to move with caution, circumspection and discretion for the present and acquiesce in existing conditions.37

An emphasis on courage and self-defense appeared regularly in the Negro World, but so did advisories on the consequences of confronting the Anglo-Saxon race in “a white man's country.” Editorials challenged black people to learn about their glorious African past and to see self-respect and racial pride as sacred mandates. Ferris promoted education and literacy as keystones of a revival of African greatness and enlightenment. The philosophies and strategies found in the UNIA organ became doctrine at the divisional level, especially in isolated rural areas. These tactics and ideology were not blindly adopted either. They made sense to those who joined the UNIA and who made contributions to its growth and success. And Ferris, although born and reared in the North, showed remarkable affinity for southerners who devoured the Negro World issues he carefully constructed for four years during the peak growth years of the UNIA.

(p.81) Ferris relished his opportunity to play a key role in this great movement under an inspiring and charismatic leader with whom he shared so many ideals. Garvey benefited enormously from having someone so capable and trustworthy to promote these aspirations, enabling the UNIA leader to use his enormous speaking talent to expand the organization's membership and to sell stock in the Black Star Line. In doing so Garvey traveled extensively and had many demands on his time. Although his presence was felt through his front-page letters to the people and his transcribed Liberty Hall speeches, so much of the paper's appeal through the years was due to the planning and calculation of its editors. During Garvey's extended absence from the American scene during his trip through the West Indies in FebruaryJuly 1921, a period during which the regular front-page missives from the leader disappeared, Ferris served Garvey's vision and supplemented it generously with great loyalty and enthusiasm.

Ferris kept his finger on the pulse of the growing UNIA as he traveled to divisions, mostly outside the South. As a highly credentialed man of the cloth himself, he promoted the idea that the clergy strongly supported the movement. He served as liaison to clergymen at their regional and national denominational conferences in order to get feedback on the UNIA's standing in local communities. Ferris knew that the clergy's strong endorsement was critical to the movement, especially in the South. He also understood the importance of keeping a strong connection with divisions out of the organization's easy reach. Ferris chose numerous southern divisional reports to appear on the page in each issue devoted to “News and Views of UNIA Divisions.” Southern contributors felt an individual connection because they could read their names, hometowns, and contribution amounts on the “Contributors' Page.” Ferris thus showed a keen consciousness of the craving rural southerners felt for inclusion in the worldwide movement.

Ferris played another important role in the UNIA by employing one of his editorial trademarks: taking on the critics of the UNIA and Garvey by reprinting their words and then offering a rebuttal. For instance, when W. I. Walls, editor of the Star of Zion, commented on the local contingent of UNIA adherents in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then warned that the leaders in New York had never been successful in other endeavors, Ferris replied directly that the “old leadership” was bankrupt and appointed by whites.38 He also took aim at competing editors of the New York black press and especially Robert Abbott, the editor of the Chicago Defender and one of Garvey's most despised rivals. This was an interesting strategy, especially since it provides researchers with a sense of which attacks the UNIA felt it necessary to address. Aggression by (p.82) Abbott threatened Garvey's constituency because of the enormous influence of the national edition of the Defender. Criticism by Du Bois and the NAACP were especially loathsome because of the national influence of that group.39 Any competitor for leadership faced Ferris's poison pen. This defense was accompanied by Garvey's wrath, a sometimes pathological response that came to include people within his own organization.

Through the mass medium of the Negro World, Ferris brought his ideas to people all over the African diaspora in a way his littlelcnown opus, The African Abroad, never did. His consistent spiritual tone and biblical references had their special appeal to the Negro World readership, and his sterling educational and theological credentials made his words more credible to the Christian believers, especially in the South, who participated fervently in the Garvey movement.

Hubert Harrison, a socialist and longtime journalist originally from Saint Croix, Danish West Indies, served as Negro World associate editor for most of 1920 and contributing editor from early 1921 through March 1922. Harrison had been the leader of the Liberty League of Harlem, which he believed was the prototype of the UNIA, which Garvey created in its image. Harrison later claimed to have reshaped the editorial and structural content of the UNIA organ, which in turn gave it its wide popularity. Although Harrison believed that neither Garvey nor Ferris were very talented journalists, he did admire Garvey as a propagandist without peer.40 Harrison's remarks about Garvey after the UNIA leader's incarceration are critical in the extreme, especially for someone who had worked for the Negro World, Garvey's most successful instrument. In accord with Amy Jacques Garvey's resistance to the allegedly unpolished prose and ideas contained in many of her husband's editorials and speeches, Harrison accused Marcus Garvey of adding “an intensive propaganda more shrewdly adapted to the cruder psychology of the less intelligent masses, the sensationalism, self-glorification, and African liberation—although he knew next to nothing of Africa.”41 These comments, found in Harrison's private writings, suggest the distaste that a number of influential Harlembased journalists felt as Garvey's activities began to focus on broad organizational expansion, including the southern field.

There were a few older and familiar southern-born editorial voices to balance the scales of public opinion. In May 1920 one of black America's most famous journalists became a weekly columnist at the age of sixty-four for the Negro World. John Edward Bruce, better known as “Bruce Grit,” wrote many of the UNIA organ's most interesting and controversial pieces until his death in 1924. Bruce had been born a slave in Maryland and had worked his way into (p.83) journalism doing clerical jobs for the New York Times and filing correspondence for William Coppinger of the American Colonization Society in Washington, D.C.42 It is possible that Bruce joined the UNIA organ as a result of Ferris's association with the Negro Society for Historical Research, an organization that Bruce and Arthur Schomburg founded in 1911 in order to disseminate African history and evidence of African contributions to civilization. But it is also known that Bruce saw leadership qualities in Garvey that he believed could fill the void that Ferris had also lamented. Bruce wrote to his friend T. Thomas Fortune, later the editor of the Negro World from 1923 to 1928, that Garvey had “caught the vision; that the people of color throughout the world believe in his leadership and want him to lead them…. The old leaders were not able or were too lazy or indifferent or both, to work out a plan for the redemption and regeneration of the Race, as attractive and practical from any angle in which it is viewed, as that of Marcus Garvey.” Bruce trusted the much younger and less experienced Garvey and put much faith in him as leader.43

Bruce had the reputation as a militant and even radical since his earliest days in journalism. He had consistently espoused black solidarity and nationalism, and in an essay from as early as 1881 he promoted what would have appeared in 1922 to be pure Garveyism.44 He produced much powerful writing on race issues during his career, and most of his work appeared as free-lance essays and opinion pieces under the nom de plume “Bruce Grit.” This not-so-subtle alias became a fixture on page two of the Negro World.45 This personal identification of the author gave his views autonomy from Garvey; at the same time, these opinions and views became tacitly endorsed by the UNIA.

Bruce wrote often about lynching and racial violence, pointing out the hypocrisy of white men defending white women's virtue while violating black womanhood. For this reason Bruce had special appeal to the southern audience, and his column no doubt resonated with southern blacks who lived under a vigilante system and with the constant threat of rape. One of the most incendiary statements to ever appear in the Negro World came straight from Bruce Grit's column: he urged black men to lynch white men who raped black women.46 Garvey gave Bruce tremendous editorial freedom, and at times Bruce rambled on about issues that irritated him, especially the internecine wars between black leaders and organizations. Bruce, the established and august journalist, gave voice to opinions that might have caused Garvey more problems if the UNIA leader had written them himself.

Marcus Garvey had no problem stirring controversy, however, and the largest one of all occurred in June 1922 when he met with the acting leader of the (p.84) Klan in Atlanta. William Seraile, Bruce's biographer, struggles to explain why Bruce never condemned Garvey for this act, which drew the almost universal ire of blaclc leaders in America. It perplexes Seraile why Bruce, a man he obviously admires deeply, would find anything reasonable or excusable about Garvey's action.47 In fact, Bruce Grit defended Garvey as he did during so many of the leader's previous crises and scandals. Was this a lapse in judgment on Bruce's part or a sign that he recognized what Garvey was trying to do—find common ground for the defense of black women—and supported it? After all, this issue was critical to the southern constituency of the UNIA.

The most important journalist to edit the UNIA's organ, T. Thomas Fortune, served during the most difficult years of the Garvey movement. He began his tenure in 1923 when Garvey was already in jail and remained with the Negro World until his death in 1928, a year after the UNIA leader had been deported to Jamaica. Fortune was born in northwest Florida before the Civil War and, like Garvey, showed an early interest in the printing trade.48 He moved to the North as a young man, and in 1884 he published his first book, Black and White: Land, Labor, and Politics in the South. In this remarkable work he analyzed the problems confronted by blacks in the post-Reconstruction period and weighed in on popular proposed solutions. Henry McNeal Turner had opined during this era that God's purpose for slavery was ultimately to Africa's benefit, but Fortune's response was outrage: “The talk about black people being brought to this country to evangelize Africa is so much religious nonsense boiled down to sycophantic platitude.”49 He insisted that blacks demand their constitutional rights and seek assimilation into white society. But in the second phase of his long career, he made many accommodations to Booker T. Washington, who secured financing for many of the papers for which Fortune wrote, ensuring his livelihood while inspiring repudiation by the anti-Tuskegee intellectual elite.50

Fortune was the mouthpiece of the influential New York Age, a nationally popular black newspaper, during the peak years of his influence in the 1890s, and the impact of this man's forceful and unremitting editorials still has not been fully appreciated or attributed to him. But in his golden years he wrote for a number of papers, including the pro-Garvey Norfolk Journal and Guide, and he enjoyed editing the Negro World. He kept the Negro World strong and worked with Amy Jacques Garvey and his friend John E. Bruce to continue the paper's appeal to the most loyal and broadest constituency. Although Fortune's later years brought him financial and personal difficulties, it would be a mistake to view him as a desperate, washed-up journalist who needed money and work. It is important to remember that when he took over the Negro World, (p.85) the UNIA did not have much to pay him. He respected Garvey's sincerity and believed in the fundamentals of UNIA ideology. In 1927 he wrote:

[Garvey] is a man of unusual ability, strength of character and determination of purpose, and strictly honest. He is a fanatic on the Redemption of Africa from white overlordship and exploitation…. He has constrained the Negro to think Negro, as the Jew thinks Jew, and that is a very great achievement, something no other Negro ever did…. To redeem Africa, to unify Negro sentiment and cooperation, to teach the Negro to conserve his social, civil and economic values, under Negro leadership and financed by Negroes—that is a worthwhile program.51

The issue of repatriation is clearly omitted from Fortune's summation of Garvey's program. The idea of blacks returning to Africa was something Fortune never agreed with. He had a long record of opposition to the American Colonization Society and was unwilling to accept any justification for slavery. He objected stringently to Edward Wilmot Blyden's American speaking tour on behalf of the American Colonization Society and emigration.52 He did, however, adopt the more anticolonial version of “African redemption.” He relished the idea of PanAfrican cooperation and black rule in Africa. As early as 1896 he himself had advocated “the formation of an association of Africans and descendants of Africa from all parts of the world.”53

Fortune's contributions to the Negro World are evident in the success of the paper and the continued growth of the UNIA during Garvey's imprisonment. Fortune was successful at maintaining a national audience for the New York Age (formerly the Globe and the New York Freeman) and even the Negro World because he never lost his familiarity with the southern scene. He continued an interest in the average black southerner even after relocating to the North because in the late nineteenth century he understood that a national black audience was by definition southern by birth. The rigorous propaganda campaign to obtain Garvey's release from prison took place in the pages of the Negro World for nearly two years while Fortune kept the newspaper interesting and inspiring for the readers. The UNIA organ published a glowing obituary of Fortune, the “Dean of Negro journalists” and the UNIA's “wise counsel and sage,” on 9 June 1928.

The pattern of editorship mirrors the pattern of UNIA growth. W. A. Domingo and Hubert Harrison, both originally from the West Indies, had very early and important roles in shaping the paper's content. But in the years in which we see the greatest devotion to Garvey and the UNIA in the South, it was the southern elder statesmen of black journalism who set the tone.

(p.86) The UNIA Makes Its Own News

Early in the Garvey movement's history, two special events covered closely in the Negro World propelled the growth of the UNIA membership and augmented the popularity of Marcus Garvey. First came the November 1919 launch of the Frederick Douglass, and second was the UNIA first annual international convention in August 1920. The money and enterprise involved in organizing the Black Star Line, coupled with the excitement generated by the ideas expressed in convention sessions and the enthusiasm shown at the massive parade spectacle, provided urgency and hope to blacks in the southern states who vicariously experienced a sense of pride and achievement in these events. African American southerners jumped on the massive UNIA bandwagon by the thousands in the twenty months following the Black Star Line's maiden voyage. The UNIA became the vehicle for their aspirations, and the Negro World became the voice of their latent agenda.

The Garvey movement spread like wildfire, and as many as 80 percent of its divisions and chapters in the South were organized during a two-year period between July 1919 and August 1921. Only a few issues of the Negro World from 1919 and 1920 are extant, but most of them from February 1921 forward have been preserved. The contents of the newspaper during this earlier period hold more specific clues for understanding Garveyism's appeal during its most electrifying period, yet later issues provide much information as to how the South was organized and how the movement was sustained. The UNIA organ published detailed reports of the activities of field workers in the South and elsewhere. This evidence enables us to discover which areas the parent body considered ripe for organization and what rhetoric and strategies seemed to be most effective in those places.

As the movement spread beyond Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina, coastal areas of the South tended to host some of Garvey's strongest constituencies. Many of the UNIA's coastal divisions counted longshoremen and other previously but unsatisfactorily organized laborers as members. The important ports at New Orleans, Mobile, and Charleston each hosted large and active units of the UNIA throughout the 1920s. Many of the discriminatory conditions experienced by black laborers in unions such as the International Longshoremen's Association encouraged participation in race-conscious organizations like the UNIA. Each of these coastal cities gave rise to multiple units of the Garvey organization because in a sense labor organization had paved the way for Garveyism.

The black communities around the port of New Orleans embraced Garveyism as widely and devotedly as those in any other section of the South. Eventually, (p.87) the popularity, factionalism, and scandal surrounding its local activities would attract the federal surveillance that partially contributed to Garvey's downfall in the United States. But for a time, the UNIA leader derived some of his most fanatical support among the laborers along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

The New Orleans division formed at S. V. Robertson's home on 12 October 1920 and unveiled its charter on 4 January 1921.54 Soon after, a West Indian organizer named Adrian Johnson brought the initial Crescent City supporters together and rallied another 2,000 by the time Marcus Garvey had his first major speaking engagement there in July 1921.55 Within a few months, downtown New Orleans had three divisions of the UNIA, plus additional locals in the uptown Carrollton district and outlying communities of Algiers, Westwego, Kenner, and Gretna. And the spread of Garveyism in Louisiana did not stop there. Intensively cultivated sugarcane communities in the river parishes, over twenty of them between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, formed UNIA branches that year thanks to national organizers like Johnson and local people such as Louisiana's two UNIA state commissioners. Thomas W. Anderson, the first of these state leaders, reportedly “tamed” the New Orleans division in 1921 and did some organizing upstate.56 In August 1922 he reported that “opposition to the UNIA in Louisiana comes from not one single white man but Negroes, especially preachers.”57 His successor, S. V. Robertson, who later became high commissioner for Louisiana, traveled further and further to the north in Louisiana and Mississippi, becoming at the 1924 convention the record holder for “having brought more members into the ranks of the UNIA than any other commissioner.”58 John Garrett, supervising engineer for the Black Star Line, was originally from Plaquemine, Louisiana, near Baton Rouge. Although he was in New York, his mother and others from his hometown maintained a faithful and active division.59

As the divisions spread through the Mississippi Valley, so did the Negro World. The paper inspired readers all along the river and elsewhere, sustaining this new group of Garveyites between visits from parent body and regional officers. Records indicate the presence of fifty-five divisions by August 1922 and at least eighty divisions and chapters by 1926 in the state of Louisiana.60

The way in which UNIA divisions were clustered around New Orleans was replicated in the communities around Mobile Bay, where six of the only thirteen Alabama divisions were located. It is likely that Adrian Johnson helped to organize the Mobile area because he was the first UNIA executive council member to visit Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas.61 Mobile served (p.88) as a feeder for the coalfields around Birmingham and had quite a strong contingent of churches, leaders, and laborers involved in a united effort to strengthen the UNIA.62 The International Longshoremen's Association had a strong following there, and conditions of rapid development and racial tension mirrored similar wartime events in Newport News. Mobile's longshoremen, almost all of whom were black, suffered abuse from police for years, especially during strikes.63

T. M. Campbell, one of two black men working as extension field agents, alerted the U.S. Department of Agriculture of possible problems with the “Back to Africa” movement in his Gulf states district. He explained in February 1923 that interest in the Garvey movement and returning to Africa had hindered the progress of black farmers the previous season and had caused the dissolution of community farmers' clubs.64 Campbell, who was closely affiliated with Tuskegee, got the secretary of agriculture's staff interested enough in this question to ask the local extension office in Alabama to consider this problem. The administrators in Washington tried to consult Robert Russa Moton, Tuskegee's principal, on the question of “Back to Africa propaganda,” but there is no evidence that they ever did. It is clear, however, that at some point later that year Garvey found it necessary to explain the UNIA's purposes to Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace directly. He wrote a long letter explaining his program, its benefits for farmers, and its compatibility with southern rural ideology. He enclosed a copy of his Philosophy and Opinions and his essay “Appeal to the Soul of White America.”65 It is not at all clear what Wallace made of all of this literature or what, if anything, he did to get black Alabama farmers reconnected to their community clubs. It is apparent, however, that Garvey valued his rural constituency and saw his ideology as applicable to an agrarian setting.

One might suppose that Garvey's affinity for the Tuskegee philosophy of economic independence and social separateness, as well as his colonization plans, might have had an especially receptive audience in Booker T. Washington's home state. There is no evidence of open hostility to the UNIA by any group in Alabama. Garvey received warm receptions from a black ministers' conference in Birmingham and from students and administrators at Tuskegee in November 1923. While his mail fraud trial was still pending and after the Klan meeting and Eason's murder, Garvey was welcomed at Tuskegee, where he offered a subdued address to the student body. Afterward, Garvey and his wife received a cordial reception and hospitality from Moton, after which the fund-raising tables were turned, and Garvey made a fifty-dollar donation to Tuskegee.66

(p.89) The only plausible excuse for the UNIA's lack of divisional strength in Alabama may simply have been a lack of manpower and resources. New Orleansbased S. V. Robertson, eventually the high commissioner for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, forfeited the opportunity to have the type of success he had in the first two states by not giving Alabama enough attention. And although we know from T. M. Campbell that Garvey's movement caught the imaginations of a significant number of farmers in Alabama, we find very little evidence of specific organizational activities beyond the Mobile area.67

South Carolina delegates to the 1920 UNIA convention carried a banner in the 1920 Harlem parade, and as in other places excitement generated during the convention assisted the growth of UNIA divisions there. An early visit by the flagship of the Black Star Line probably had much to do with the growth of interest of the Charleston community in the UNIA. The Frederick Douglass made port in Charleston in August 1920 while the convention was going on in New York. Septima Clark, later the linchpin of the voter education and civil rights movement in South Carolina, recalled the pride and exuberance she felt as a child along with her Charleston community upon seeing the arrival of the Black Star Line's first ship.68 Charleston had three divisions and two chapters located in various black districts in the city. These divisions remained consistently active throughout the 1920s, and a strong auxiliary of Black Cross Nurses carried out service projects for the local community. The Negro World frequently reported the activities of the Charleston divisions, and it is clear that there was nothing clandestine about their meetings or their convictions.69 On 1 January 1922, the Charleston Garveyites held an Emancipation Day parade down Calhoun Street, which included red, black, and green UNIA flags.70 The community reacted positively to the display, and reports indicated that resistance to the movement subsided after that day.71 The main division held other parades, sponsored rallies and petitions, and proudly wore UNIA lapel pins in the streets of Charleston throughout the 1920s. The demographics of South Carolina's UNIA divisions suggest that interest and organization radiated out from that city, as it had from New Orleans and Mobile. All but four of South Carolina's twenty-five divisions were located in the low country, most of them being within fifty miles of Charleston. Jacob W. Slappey, the UNIA commissioner for South Carolina, claimed to have waged a strenuous fight in order to get the pastors of Charleston and other towns nearby to embrace Garveyism. In New York's Liberty Hall in October 1923, he relished telling the audience that no opposition to the UNIA existed anywhere in his state since his work had been completed. In a report to the Negro World, he suggested that the strength of the South Carolina UNIA had eased racial tensions and reduced (p.90) lynching in the early 1920s.72 Although this claim and its connection to the UNIA cannot be verified, it is true that lynching dropped off significantly in the 1920s compared with the three previous decades in the South.73 Those who fought courageously for antilynching legislation in 1921–22 could have easily made similar claims.

Just as ambiguous as the weakness of the UNIA in Alabama is the reason that Texas had only twelve divisions. Other than the distinct possibility that Texas had geographical and logistical conditions that made it more complicated to organize, one plausible explanation for Texas's dearth of UNIA presence was the outward violence experienced by race organizers in the state. In August 1919 a white mob in Austin had assaulted John Shillady, the white national secretary for the NAACP, in broad daylight during a visit on behalf of the organization. Apparently, this event was countenanced by state authorities, and the governor issued statements in support of the mob.74 If a white man could receive such treatment in the Texas capital, a black man's prospects in the countryside would have seemed particularly dim.

The NAACP had thirty-one branches in the state before Shillady's attack and the massive rejuvenation of the Ku Klux Klan in the early 1920s, but the NAACP shrank to only five active branches by 1923. The only locale in which both the UNIA and NAACP operated was Dallas. But there NAACP members grew fearful of meeting at all, and the national office promoted very discreet fund-raising rather than local agitation.75

The UNIA's commissioner to Texas, R. B. Moseley, endured a severe and frightening beating by eight white men while traveling and speaking in his home state. Moseley, a Dallas chef, reported the incident to Garvey in June 1922, right after it occurred. The man's stolid account indicated his dedication to his duties and his bravery and pragmatism in the face of white intimidation. He had spoken to four churches, including one with 500 attendees, in less than a week. His journey had included visiting with farmers and canvassing black neighborhoods in the small towns of Fry's Gap, Cushing, Jacksonville, and Rusk in northeast Texas. He pressed on even after having been ominously followed and threatened during twilight hours. Eventually, state authorities picked him up, placed him in jail, and fined him for vagrancy. On his way to the station to return home to Dallas by train, he was waylaid and severely beaten.76 The Interdenominational Negro Alliance of Dallas's black pastors had publicly rejected local UNIA leaders' request for an endorsement of Garvey's upcoming visit to Dallas just days earlier.77 On 19 June the UNIA leader came anyway during a sweep through the South, the same trip that culminated in his meeting with the Klan's acting imperial wizard in Atlanta. Clearly, (p.91) the issues of pressure and violence toward the UNIA confronted Garvey on this particular southern journey and perhaps influenced this strategic misstep.

Another possible factor influencing negative perceptions of the UNIA in Texas may have been its similarity to a previous emigration movement. Memories may have lingered of Chief Alfred Sam's project, which involved Texans around the Galveston area as well as a few hundred black Oklahomans. A trader-nationalist from the Gold Coast, Sam had been active in recruiting emigrants for Africa and stockholders in his Alcim Trading Company, preceding the Garvey movement in its plans and ideals by less than a decade. The British colonial government had tried to obtain the U.S. government's help in curbing Sam's activities, and as a result, the mission-oriented entrepreneur received much negative publicity and drew a U.S. government investigation for mail fraud. Local efforts attempted to discourage African Americans from partaking of Sam's offer to transport African American farmers and mechanics to land he owned in the Gold Coast. Nevertheless, emigrants eventually sailed on the SS Liberia, a ship Sam had purchased and outfitted with stock-holder money, from Galveston in 1914.78 Whether Texans associated the UNIA with Chief Sam's project or not, in the violent atmosphere of the Lone Star State, UNIA organizers essentially abandoned Texas in favor of more hospitable southern climes.

Tennessee's experience with the UNIA had mixed results. Although the state suffered from erratic leadership and the organization developed only twelve divisions, a few elements of Garveyism merit mention. Apparently, organizational efforts in Tennessee focused on the larger cities of Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga. Knoxville had endured the worst urban race riot in the former Confederacy during the United States's traumatic year of violence in 1919. Some local black citizens looked to organizations for help, and within one year Knoxville hosted two UNIA locals. T. C. Glashen, the incendiary and militant British Guianan banished from Key West, reappeared as the president of one Knoxville division and then as UNIA commissioner for Tennessee. By August 1923 he was creating controversy again, this time not with local citizens, but with the UNIA parent body. For undisclosed reasons he was removed from his leadership role.79 The first southern city to hear Garvey in person in 1917, Nashville began reading the Negro World as early as December 1919 and eventually had two divisions, one of which prospered and enjoyed participation by professional blacks. It had a physician as its president, as well as its own “Liberty Hall” and ladies' division.80 Although the Memphis division was chartered quite early according to its division number, the origins and activities of division number 195 remain obscure. One might suspect that (p.92) Memphis played a role as the metropolis from which Garveyism spread into the Delta, but there is no evidence to support this connection. The Negro World, usually the best source for information about local divisions, is curiously silent on UNIA activities in Memphis.

Chattanooga serves as a rare example outside of Texas and Florida where violent hostility from white officials affected UNIA activities. In August 1927 local authorities raided the Chattanooga Liberty Hall, precipitating a gun battle that elicited substantial news coverage and attention by the white press. Some reports claimed that outside agitation among Chattanooga black laborers had expanded the local UNIA to 700 members. The group had aroused suspicion by trying to purchase military uniforms and 200 high-power “repeating” rifles.81 This rather late emergence of a UNIA stronghold raises interesting questions about the effect that white hostility had on making a local group seem more radical. We do not know if the Chattanooga group intended to use aggression or if they were simply arming themselves for self-defense in the rapidly deteriorating racial climate of the community in which they organized.

As we come to understand the growth and spread of the UNIA in the early states of Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina, in the weakly organized states of Alabama, Texas, and Tennessee, and in important coastal cities like Charleston, Mobile, and New Orleans and their peripheries, the diversity among southern Garveyites becomes clearer. Although the reasons for the UNIA's relatively small numbers of divisions in Alabama, Texas, and Tennessee remain obscure, its contrasting divisional strength in southwest Georgia and in the Delta region along both sides of the Mississippi River demand an explanation. An obvious similarity between these two areas is their overlap with the Black Belt. But more striking perhaps is the rural character of the UNIA divisions in both areas. As these remote districts of the southern landscape became saturated with sympathy for the UNIA, Garveyism achieved an even higher degree of popular appeal and diversity.

Georgia as a Case Study in Rural Organization

Georgia hosted a very early UNIA division, chartered even before the first convention, at the port of Brunswick. In 1920 this coastal town of 14,413 was half black and half white.82 But its population had grown, and racial proportions had vacillated during the war years. During 1918, the U.S. Department of Labor had surveyed working conditions there and found that although the population before the war included a majority of blacks, an influx of almost exclusively white industrial laborers for shipbuilding had altered the balance to (p.93) the point that whites outnumbered blacks after the war. Puerto Rican laborers, who helped build and run the new Picric Acid Plant, formed the only foreign segment of the population, and almost all were deported by 1918. Whites monopolized skilled jobs, and 75 percent of all labor remained unorganized.83

Brunswick's deep channel provided one of the best natural harbors on the Atlantic Coast and made it more attractive than Savannah as a site for heavy industry in 1918. It also served as an important port of call for the Clyde Line, a passenger steamship company that stopped in coastal cities from Jacksonville to New York.84 Brunswick became the primary embarkation city for blacks from rural areas in extreme south Georgia who were migrating to the Northeast. Many migrants never made it past Brunswick, sometimes for lack of funds or because they found work at the port.85

In early 1921 the Reverend J. W. H. Eason found conditions in Brunswick and south Georgia ripe for expanding the UNIA in the Deep South. After his rewarding ventures in North Carolina, Eason became adept at gauging the UNIA message to local conditions. In January 1921 he spoke in seventeen locations in and around Brunswick and took a cash order for over 500 copies of the Negro World.86 UNIA secretary Prendergast accompanied Eason on this worthwhile journey, and by late March local people praised and recognized their work for inspiring and organizing new divisions throughout southern Georgia.

Freedom for Africa predominated Eason's addresses as he introduced south Georgia's black population to the UNIA in this first spin through the state. H. F. Parian of Brunswick reported on Eason's successful visits to several large churches in the Brunswick area. Eason began with a series of lectures to 700 people at Payne's Chapel, the Brunswick division president's home church. Enthusiastic listeners from the Reverend B. W. Jones's AME congregation purchased two hundred dollars worth of Black Star Line stock. Arkansas native E.J. Rozzell, who was known in Brunswick for bringing in black strikebreakers for white longshoremen, opened his church, Mount Olive Baptist, for Eason to speak. And the Reverend S. C. Roberts of Shiloh Baptist also welcomed the North Carolina pastor into his church for a mass meeting of 1,000 black citizens of Brunswick.87

Baptist and AME ministers in the Brunswick community welcomed the Garvey message and seemed especially receptive to Eason, a fellow clergyman. He understood their lives and challenges in the South from personal experience and was able to calibrate the UNIA's platform and Garvey's vision to local conditions. Not just in Georgia, but all over the South, ministers and their churches formed a crucial part of the UNIA infrastructure. Although they were (p.94) not exclusively in charge of organizing and leading local UNIA divisions, at least thirty-two ministers, extant record fragments show, headed southern divisions, while eight served as local secretaries in 1926 through 1927.88 Many more provided access to their congregations, use of their facilities, and support to local lay organizers. The Negro World also provides evidence of abundant ministerial support for Garveyism in the Southland. Randall Burkett has shown that as many as 250 active Garveyite clergy assisted the UNIA from 1921 through 1923.89

A Brunswick preacher named F. W. Ware became the state organizer for Georgia in 1921 and escorted Eason and Prendergast into the interior to organize further. After Eason rushed to Washington, D.C., to attend to other business, Ware and Prendergast visited Baxley, sixty miles northwest along the railroad, to follow up on early support indicated there. Columbus L. Halton, a sixty-year-old laborer who had lost his farm in the 1910s, later became division president in Baxley. Halton had already proved his commitment to the movement by attending the Harlem convention in August 1920. He not only signed the original Negro Bill of Rights but also delivered a graphic report on harsh conditions in Georgia, which had been recorded in convention minutes.90 In Baxley, Prendergast delivered an earnest explanation of the red, black, and green UNIA flag and the meaning of plans to build up Africa with the help of some willing African American pioneers. Ware followed with a humorous and light-hearted lecture, which apparently aroused much affection and support for the movement.91

Ware also organized a division at Waycross, sixty miles due west of Brunswick, which yielded 150 members and even a separate ladies' division. Soon after, Waycross formed a second UNIA branch, chapter #34, because of expanding interest and conflicting leadership in the town. At the tiny railroad stop of Gardi, which lay between Brunswick and Baxley, thirty-three people formed a UNIA division, again with Ware's help, in early 1921.92

Although the work of Eason, Prendergast, and Ware left a trail of new divisions behind, Georgia's UNIA divisions did not arise in any systematic way, according to their charter numbers. The most notable pattern emerges in the way the organization stayed almost exclusively in the extreme southern part of the state. The rural piedmont in the east-central part of the state did not show any trace of support for Garvey or the UNIA, whereas the coastal plain and especially the southwest section of the state became thoroughly immersed in the movement.93

Although it is possible to group divisions in this way, there was not much difference between a division organized in January and one organized in (p.95) August 1921. More important to note, however, are influences on their organization. One important factor is whether Eason or Ware or other organizers brought the UNIA and the Garvey movement to a community or whether locals who read the Negro World took the initiative to organize their own divisions. By March 1921, the central administration of the UNIA recognized that its field workers could not move fast enough to meet the ravenous demand for new divisions. The UNIA constitution stipulated very strict rules governing the formation, leadership, and membership of divisions. At least seven members, all Negro, needed to pay dues for a charter to be issued. Relatives were not allowed to monopolize leadership posts within a division. Assuming he would have the ability to know all local leaders, the regulations required that the president general vouch for division presidents before they assumed their posts. Each division required a chaplain, and stringent record keeping and reporting to the parent body were mandated.94

Not even the enterprising Garvey could have predicted the explosive growth of the movement in rural communities, where many willing participants could not reasonably meet the constitution's restrictions. At some point the UNIA executive council must have decided that some of the rural divisions would be exempt from the most inapplicable requirements. These exceptions paved the way for autonomous divisions to form with the Negro World, the UNIA constitution, and the Negro Bill of Rights as their only guides.

Another problem arose as Garvey wanted to affiliate willing members quickly but did not have enough trustworthy and dynamic organizers like Eason to go around. J. D. Brooks and E. W. Pearson in North Carolina had provided early examples of corruption's potential in such a contribution-driven and fast-growing organization. Sometime during early 1921, Garvey must have decided to risk further opportunities for graft and strike while the irons were hot, allowing divisions to form on their own. The Negro World began to run a large advertisement encouraging the formation of local branches in specific states in the United States: “Start a Branch: Seven or more colored persons should get together now and start a branch of the Universal Negro Improvement Association in the following states.” The list of thirty-three states included every southern state except for Virginia. The geographic focus for expansion was obviously on the Midwest, West, and South, while obvious states omitted were all in the Northeast plus California, Ohio, and Michigan, where an infrastructure was already in place.95 As late as September 1922, August Handy of Maringouin, Louisiana, wrote to the Negro World editor that he had organized 135 people in his community and was “only waiting for the [UNIA] state commissioner.”96 People in some areas who read the UNIA paper (p.96) and supported its causes never formed divisions. After suggesting the Negro World should be read in every Negro home in the world, Mrs. L. M. Palmer from a tiny community in coastal Mcintosh County, Georgia, wrote in 1924: “We have not any branch of the UNIA here at Crescent, but most everybody has the Garvey spirit.”97

The Negro World began arriving in large quantities to subscribers and agents in all the new divisions, where in turn it sparked further interest in neighboring communities. J. C. Wilson, a drayman and local mason, became the executive secretary of the Brunswick division. He reported continued growth to over 600 members in the months after Eason's departure. The beachhead division declared a goal of 2,000 just for Brunswick alone.98

The UNIA Spreads to the Rural, Interior South

By the summer of 1921 the UNIA had taken hold in the rural counties around Albany in southwest Georgia's Black Belt. Fourteen of Georgia's thirty-four UNIA divisions lay within a forty-mile radius of Albany. The most remote and isolated farming communities in the state ended up with the highest concentrations of UNIA supporters in the whole region. Camilla and Pelham in Mitchell County, twenty miles south of Albany, benefited from a strong local organizer, who, along with C. A. Halton of Baxley, had attended the 1920 UNIA convention and signed the Negro Bill of Rights. The Reverend O. C. Kelly brought in the high commissioner, S. V. Robertson, to inspire his already enthusiastic divisions. Robertson's address, “Marcus Garvey the Dreamer,” contained now-familiar phrases and revealing clues to the movement's challenges and direction in rural areas:

The UNIA does not teach you to be disloyal to any government but it teaches you the Redemption of Africa, our Motherland, and to be loyal to your race…. “Dream on Mr. Garvey, until the Negro wakes up everywhere.” No Negro wants social equality, but wants social rights. Organize and get together. God has sent us a man to teach us to unite…. The UNIA teaches you that the Negroes will never be anything until they possess strong power; not until then will we be respected…. The UNIA is churchlike…. Dream on until every Negro can say “free at last, free at last.”99

Two months later, local organizer Kelly again turned out the community for an appearance by J. W. H. Eason. Ten thousand blacks from in and around Mitchell County spilled into the intersection of what is now Love Street and Liberia Avenue in front of Pelham's Summerhill Baptist Church on the night of 10 May 1922. The Leader of American Negroes spoke on the principles of (p.97)


Summerhill Baptist Church, host to the largest UNIA mass meeting in southwest Georgia, remains an active part of the black community in Pelham, Mitchell County, Georgia. It sits atop a knoll at the corner of Love Street and Liberia Avenue. (Photograph by author)

the UNIA and Africa for the Africans.100 The message remained strong in their minds for months. At the summer's end, the nearby Camilla division held a celebration on 31 August, the date for the international Negro holiday suggested in the Negro Bill of Rights, at Union Grove Baptist Church.101

Nearby in Worth County, the Coverdale and Shingler divisions had formed in January 1922, and Commissioner S. V. Robertson helped members of these divisions organize a new division five miles down the road at Sylvester, the county seat.102 By the end of 1922, the residents of Worth County had established five UNIA divisions among the county's 12,000 blacks, making this section of southwest Georgia the heart of the Garvey movement in the state.

The isolation of Worth County, Georgia, and its cotton economy were comparable (p.98) in many ways to most of the Arkansas and YazooMississippi Deltas, the most purely pro-Garvey region in the United States. The Flint River formed the county's northwestern border and had served as a major transportation route out of the cotton-rich counties of southwest Georgia into the Gulf of Mexico. In the counties of extreme south Georgia, there was more of a racial balance, as compared with the counties adjacent to the Mississippi River, whether in Mississippi or Arkansas, where blacks made up well over half of the population. The Mississippi side was serviced by the great railroads extending from Chicago to New Orleans via Memphis. The Arkansas side included counties like Phillips, which was as isolated as any community in the Southeast but was home to at least six UNIA divisions. And of course the river and railroads were the major transportation route for all of the goods residents of these areas produced. The Negro World was read and appreciated by people from these remote communities.

As charter numbers suggest, Mississippi and Arkansas aligned with the UNIA slightly later than the rest of the southern states. Although the Delta area lagged by about six to twelve months, the thoroughness of organization made up for any tardiness. Sources give only a few clues as to how this region, obviously so rich in Garveyite sentiment, became organized. The Negro World does not tell us who organized there in 1921 and 1922, but we know that the Leader of American Negroes who replaced Eason in August 1922 was William LeVan Sherrill, a native of Jefferson County, Arkansas, an important crossroads in the Delta. In September 1923 S. V. Robertson, the high commissioner, was reassigned to Mississippi and had actually come into the Delta area while visiting Merigold in Bolivar County.103

Since Negro World advertisements encouraged communities to form divisions on their own initiative beginning in March 1921, this may explain the appearance of nearly 100 Delta divisions.104 In imagining this process, the accessibility of the Negro World was crucial. Local people had ties to migrants in New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, and kinship and friendship networks no doubt provided information and encouragement in both directions.105 In the absence of regional and national organizers it fell to indigenous, organic intellectuals to promote the cause of PanAfricanism.106

In the rural South of the 1920s news of a visiting speaker, especially a gifted orator like Eason or Robertson, could command enormous audiences. The audience's appreciation was demonstrated in contributions, as UNIA converts joined the organization or purchased Black Star Line stock or Negro World subscriptions in the heat of their enthusiasm. But how a local person absorbed (p.99) the UNIA platform through the Negro World, recognized its familiar and attractive themes, became inspired by the scope of Garvey's vision, and then called together friends and neighbors, convincing them to contribute their meager income to an international cause, is remarkable.

The community member most likely to have been capable of promoting such a cause would have been a pastor. In rural counties around the South many churches were too small to have a resident churchman, and in extreme cases itinerant ministers visited as many as forty churches a season. Preachers, rather than trained pastors, often had little beyond a grammar school education and made their living working alongside their flocks in the fields during the week. These men often served as the intellectuals of their communities, providing secular as well as spiritual leadership. Pastors in rural areas tended to be older than urban pastors, and their messages were more other-worldly. Records show that the rural preachers who promoted Garveyism usually fit this composite. They enjoyed the support of local laymen who may have been precisely those who held the mid-week services that were common in rural churches with itinerant preachers.107

Any race organization's biggest challenge in the east Arkansas Delta was not finding sympathy for its objectives but sending its representatives there safely to organize. Despite the dangers, numerous UNIA divisions appeared within a fifty-mile radius of Elaine in Phillips County, the site of the most notorious rural race riot of the postWorld War I period. The three days of violence, which killed hundreds of local black farmers in September 1919, had been precipitated by farmers joining together for legal action in collecting their overdue crop payments.108

One would not think any race organization could succeed in proximity to Elaine so soon after this calamity. Nevertheless, Phillips County and neighboring Monroe County hosted at least six UNIA divisions each, while Lee and St. Francis Counties to the north had three or more divisions each. Six of the UNIA's most active divisions in the state of Mississippi and twenty-six others were within this fifty-mile radius of Elaine also, although they were across the river.109 The fifteen Arkansas UNIA divisions close to Elaine existed in communities that averaged 200 or fewer people. Holly Grove and Round Pond both had populations between 500 and 1,000, and each hosted two UNIA branches. Most of these were on the MissouriPacific Railroad or the MissouriNorth Arkansas Railroad lines, which were both used mainly for transporting lumber and cotton to Helena at the river's edge in Phillips County or Memphis, seventy miles to the north. Despite the widening reach of the automobile after (p.100) World War I and its ability to make travelers more anonymous, only two division towns could be reached by paved road, and thus visitors would need a substantial incentive for attempting to visit and organize in the area.110

Marcus Garvey and the UNIA program became familiar to local residents beginning with the circulation of the Negro World in Arkansas in 1919.111 The complaint from Wabbaseka proved that early issues of the Negro World had increased racial tension with some white locals. A black drugstore owner in Camden, Arkansas, became a regular distributor of the paper, and George McCrary of Fort Smith was recognized as one of the top forty-two agents worldwide for Negro World circulation.112 By late summer of 1921 thirty-five of Arkansas's divisions were awaiting charters. There is no evidence, however, of a national or even regional or state organizer traveling through Arkansas before that time. We must conclude that local UNIA supporters heeded the Negro World advertisements encouraging local UNIA supporters to set up their own divisions.113

Adam D. Newson of Merigold, Mississippi, was a farmer and preacher with several churches in Bolivar County under his guidance. He became instrumental in leading the UNIA in Mississippi, representing its divisions at the conventions in Harlem and preparing the state for visits and speeches of the high commissioner. He even appeared at a regional gathering of Delta UNIA divisions at Pine City, Arkansas, indicating links between divisions across the Mississippi.114 Marcus Garvey never visited the Arkansas or Mississippi Deltas or southwest Georgia, but his influence was deeply felt nevertheless.

Rural ministers who rode the circuit may have served as the UNIA's best organizers, putting the most dutiful members of their various congregations in charge of correspondence with the New York headquarters, money collection, and meetings. E. B. “Britt” McKinney, who later became the black vice president of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union in 1934, was a minister, farmer, and devoted Garveyite who supervised over thirty-six churches comprising 4,000 people in the Arkansas Delta.115 He claimed to have spent the forty-four years between 1894 and 1938 organizing his people around his Delta home in Marked Tree, where he believed his influence among his congregants was paramount in their decisions to join or stay out of an organization.116

Meanwhile, ministers in the larger Delta towns resisted any protest organizations disturbing the peace. Two weeks after the Elaine massacre, a committee of ministers and leading black citizens of Blytheville, Arkansas, published a resolution in which they promised to “allow no one to establish any organization among them that might create trouble.”117 Mississippi County blacks ignored the counsel of these men and established UNIA divisions at Armorel, (p.101) Burton Spurr, Hickman, Gosnell, and Burdett, and two at Blytheville, a Delta community forty miles north of Memphis, which hosted some of the most faithful and dynamic of UNIA's Arkansas divisions.118 Even in the organization's waning days after Garvey's deportation, these divisions maintained correspondence, reports, and dues to the central division. Tiny Burton Spurr, too small to have its own post office, had thirty-two members in 1927, and its division president George Fowler was a tenant farmer.119

Blytheville had a number of black citizens who preferred the ideology of Garvey to the advice of their own conservative ministers. Contributions to the “Marcus Garvey Defense Fund,” reported during the UNIA leader's mail fraud trial, indicate heavier support for Garvey in Blytheville than in any other Delta location.120 R. H. McDowell represented Blytheville at the UNIA's 1924 convention in Harlem and reported problems:

The people, who were mostly farmers, were struggling with the organization in the face of the opposition of the preachers and others, among them some professional men. But the organization had had the sympathetic consideration of the town authorities so much so that when members of another Negro organization sought to prevent them meeting in the town, complaining that the aims and objects of the association were not satisfactory, the mayor not only gave them permission but recommended the work as being very good for the race.121

Other Blytheville blacks voiced support to the UNIA. Mollie Bynum hoped local youth would become UNIA members before they became trapped in exploitative jobs; J. L. Cooper felt strongly enough about the positive influence of the Negro World to send in a letter to the editors praising their work.122 Readers from nearby Marianna and Brinkley commented on the important educational value of the paper for instilling race pride and informing people of African descent of their long and remarkable history.123

The ministers of Holly Grove, Arkansas, in Monroe County, a community of 977 persons, had different dispositions from their brethren in Blytheville.124 The local UNIA division had eighty-three members in 1922 and drew from four different local congregations. Sizable collections for the “UNIA Convention Fund” were sent on behalf of the four congregations as a whole rather than as individual donations.125 Tom Bobo, the division president, was a fifty-three-year-old tenant farmer with six children. Although a layman, he enjoyed the support of local ministers and had one of the strongest UNIA divisions in the state.

The Reverend J. W. H. Eason and S. V. Robertson represent the best of (p.102) clergymen and laymen from the UNIA parent body, using their organizational skills and diplomacy in the most challenging racial environment in the United States. Local organizers like Adam D. Newson, E. B. McKinney, and Tom Bobo demonstrate the effectiveness of ministers and community activists at the local level. The occasional visits by eloquent speakers like Eason and Robertson supplied inspiration for rural people while also providing reassurance that the UNIA existed and functioned at a higher level, implementing the programs it represented. The week-to-week efforts of local people and the regularity of the Negro World sustained and informed the grassroots membership. Unlike their national and regional counterparts, local leaders in small communities worked without salaries or recognition. Individually, they played very small roles in the organization, but when we begin to recognize the vast numbers of small divisions and contributions from all over the South that underpinned the Garvey movement, their sum takes on new significance. A closer look at local, rural, and southern members of the UNIA who made up this vital component of the organization will provide a context for their activism.


(1) . U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Negroes in the United States, 55.

(2) . GP 1:202.

(3) . UNIAR, reel 1, box 1, section A5, p. 55. The southern states I am examining were grouped as follows: District 3—Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C.; District 4—North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky; District 5—South Carolina, Georgia, Florida; District 8—Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas; District 10—Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana; and District 11—Texas, New Mexico, Arizona.

(4) . The text of the bill of rights was reproduced in the Pittsburgh Courier in 1930. See Hill, Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons, 43–53.

(5) . Garvey disavowed editorials under his name in 1932. His control as managing editor became tenuous after a split in the organization in 1930. See Hill, Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons, 414.

(6) . GP 1:382–83.

(7) . Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent, 76–77.

(8) . Hahn, Nation Under Our Feet, 326–27.

(9) . Southwest Christian Advocate, 26 June 1900.

(10) . Jordan, Black Newspapers and America's War for Democracy.

(11) . For the most part, the local and regional black newspapers that have survived from the late 1910s and 1920s ignored Garvey and his activities except where they involved scandals, his imprisonment, or his deportation and death. See Williams, “Newspapers Citations from the Tuskegee Archives,” 16–37. Garvey's rivalry with leaders of the black elite and his alienation of many newspaper editors froze him out of most well-circulated black papers, except where unflattering news was possible. Notable examples of favorable coverage appear in the Norfolk Journal and Guide and the Cotton Farmer (Bolivar County, Mississippi).

(12) . Wolseley, Black Press, U.S.A., 65–67.

(13) . Ibid., 54.

(14) . GP 1:386; U.S. Census, Population Schedule, Jefferson County, Arkansas, 1920.

(15) . NW, 22 February 1930, 1; NW, 1 March 1924, 1.

(16) . Jordan, Black Newspapers and America's War for Democracy, 32.

(17) . Cronon, Black Moses, xvii.

(18) . Julius Thompson, Black Press in Mississippi, II.

(19) . GP 3:51.

(20) . Quoted in McMillen, Dark Journey, 174.

(21) . NW, 21 June 1924, 4.

(22) . Jordan, Black Newspapers and America's War for Democracy, 119–22; GP 1:386 n. 1.

(23) . Amy Jacques Garvey, Philosophy and Opinions, 240; Tony Martin, Race First, 316.

(24) . Garvey called people “race traitors” when they opposed him, suggesting that they would side with whites over blacks and thereby had abdicated their right to be leaders of blacks.

(25) . NW, 12 April 1924, 12.

(26) . Hill, Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons, 378.

(27) . Burkett, Black Redemption, 65.

(28) . Ibid., 66–68.

(29) . Ferris, African Abroad, iii.

(30) . Ibid., 395.

(31) . NW, 2 December 1922, 2.

(32) . GP 5:xxxiv.

(33) . Burkett, Black Redemption, 65–70.

(34) . Quoted in ibid., 66.

(35) . NW, 6 November 1920, 2.

(36) . Burkett, Black Redemption, 65; Ferris, African Abroad, 301.

(37) . Ferris, African Abroad, 347.

(38) . Star of Zion, 8 September 1921; NW, 1 October 1921. These criticisms were aimed at J. W. H. Eason and William Ferris, both of whom had served as pastors in North Carolina before going north.

(39) . Issues of the Crisis that cover the UNIA or Garvey include the following dates: December 1920, January 1921, September 1922, January 1923, and May 1924.

(40) . Perry, Hubert Harrison Reader, 196–97.

(41) . Ibid., 197.

(42) . Perhaps it is more than an amazing coincidence that Bruce supplies this seemingly random connection between the leading proponent of black emigration to Liberia in the nineteenth century and the UNIA, an emigration-oriented group that appealed to much of the same southern constituency in the twentieth. We have much to learn by reading the very letters that Bruce would have filed from rural blacks all over the South who were desperate for information and assistance in emigrating to Liberia.

(43) . Thornbrough, T. Thomas Fortune, 358.

(44) . Seraile, Bruce Grit, 15.

(45) . Thornbrough, T. Thomas Fortune, 30.

(46) . Seraile, Bruce Grit, 189.

(47) . Ibid., 185.

(48) . Thornbrough, T. Thomas Fortune, 9.

(49) . Quoted in ibid., 73.

(50) . Ibid., ix–x, 175, 354.

(51) . Quoted in ibid., 361–62, from Fortune's periodical column “The Passing Show,” in the Norfolk Journal and Guide, 13 December 1927.

(52) . Thornbrough, T. Thomas Fortune, 141–42.

(53) . Ibid., 144–45.

(54) . I believe this should have been S. V. Robertson, not H. V. Roberson as it was misprinted in the Negro World. There is a lot of activity reported by Sylvester Victor Robertson, and his name is regularly subjected to misspellings. Negro World, n.d. (ca. January 1921). This rare issue is held at University of California, Los Angeles, Center for African American Studies, Los Angeles, Calif.

(55) . GP 3:539–40.

(56) . NW, 25 February 1922, 8; NW, 4 March 1922, 9.

(57) . GP 4:792.

(58) . NW, 16 August 1924, 9.

(59) . NW, 29 March 1924, 3.

(60) . GP 4:729; Division Card File, UNIAR. A huge proportion of the UNIA divisions were between or near New Orleans and Baton Rouge right on the river, including eleven in or adjacent to New Orleans. Just south and east of New Orleans were eight more. Southwest of New Orleans were two divisions, and moving west and north along the river were twenty-seven UNIA divisions, including seven at Baton Rouge. Ten others were in the area immediately around Baton Rouge, and five others were within thirty to forty miles of Baton Rouge. Nine of Louisiana's UNIA divisions were in Natchitoches Parish in northwest Louisiana. Red River Parish, just north of Natchitoches, had one division at Armistead. There were four divisions in northeast Louisiana—three in Franklin Parish and one in Ouachita Parish at Luna. There was also a “Lemonville, Louisiana,” division that was very active, though there was and is no such place in the state. The organizer's mailing address was Lauderdale, Louisiana, which is in the extreme southwest part of the state near Texas. There was, however, a place on the Texas-Louisiana border called Lemonville, which no longer exists. In the first three decades of the twentieth century, it was a short-lived sawmill town on the Texarkana and Fort Smith Railway. When local lumber was depleted, the town ceased to exist. Its largest estimated population was around 300. See “Lemonville, Texas,” in the Handbook of Texas Online, 〈http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/LL/htl10.html〉 (16 September 2004).Three unaccounted-for divisions in Louisiana include Arlington, Bermuda, and College Grove.

(61) . GP 3:539–43.

(62) . U.S. Pardon Attorney Records, RG 204, 42–793, box 1161, National Archives II, College Park, Md.

(63) . Nelson, “Organized Labor and the Struggle for Black Equality in Mobile,” 965. Historian Robin D. G. Kelley has noted the relative weakness of Garveyism in (p.233) Alabama. Why the agricultural communities of this particular state might have eschewed Garveyism to the extent that they did is puzzling. Kelley's discussion of the Communist Party's success in organizing black workers in Alabama during the Depression years suggests a strong class consciousness among the state's black workers in a later decade, but this helps us little in understanding why Garveyism's “race first” ideology did not thrive there in the 1920s as it did in southwest Georgia. See Kelley, Hammer and Hoe, 8.

(64) . T. M. Campbell to L. N. Duncan, 9 February 1923, Office of Secretary of Agriculture, General Correspondence: Negroes, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Records, RG 16, box 1, folder 1923, National Archives II, College Park, Md.

(65) . Letter to T. M. Campbell, 15 February 1923 (unsigned), and Marcus Garvey to Henry A. Wallace, 4 October 1923, both in ibid.

(66) . R. R. Moton to Marcus Garvey, 6 November 1923, in Williams, Eight Negro Bibliographies; NW, 24 November 1923, 2.

(67) . The history of divisions in the tiny villages of Inverness (Bullock County) and Neenah (Wilcox County), and the town of Selma (Dallas County), all in the central Alabama Black Belt, would be particularly interesting in light of events in the 1960s.

(68) . McFadden, “Septima P. Clark and the Struggle for Human Rights,” 87.

(69) . For reports on the Charleston divisions and chapters see NW, 4 and 18 February, 4 and 11 March, 22 April, 9 July, and 5 August 1922; 20 January, 3 and 24 February, 17 March, 9 and 30 June, 25 August, 27 October 1923; 14 June 1924; and 18 May 1929. (Some of the above have several references per issue.)

(70) . NW, 4 February 1922, 10.

(71) . NW, 18 February 1922, 9.

(72) . NW, 27 October 1923, 3.

(73) . There are a number of sources for these statistics, none of which have identical or complete data for southern states and individual years, but all of which indicate a substantial drop in lynching after 1920. See 〈http://people.uncw.edu/hinese/HAL/HAL%20Web%20Page.htm〉 (26 May 2006) for lynching data from the Historic American Lynching Project (Project HAL) at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington; and Brundage, Lynching in the New South, 270–80.

(74) . Goings, NAACP Comes of Age, 10.

(76) . NW, 3 June 1922; GP 4:649–50.

(77) . Dallas Express, 3 June 1922, Hampton University Newspaper Clipping File, microfiche 470.

(78) . GP 1:536–47.

(79) . NW, 11 August 1923, 7.

(80) . GP 2:169–70; NW, 29 October 1921, 11; NW, 11 February 1922, 10; NW, 4 March 1922, 8.

(81) . GP 6:578–83.

(82) . U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Fourteenth Census, vol. 3: Population Composition, 201–27.

(83) . Grossman, Black Workers in the Era of the Great Migration, reel 22, 728–37, 746.

(84) . Rand McNally Commercial Atlas, 54th ed., 219.

(85) . Author interview (by phone) with Richard Perry, Brunswick, Ga., 6 April 1995; author interview with Fannie Kaigler of Tift, Berrien, and Glynn Counties, Ga., in Brunswick, Ga., 2 April 1995.

(86) . NW, 5 March 1921, 2.

(87) . NW, 16 April 1921, 8; author interview with Richard Perry.

(88) . See appendix E.

(89) . Burkett, Black Redemption, 9, 51.

(90) . Hill, Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons, 53; GP 2:563. Cyril Crichlow and Isaac Newton Brathwaite were the stenographers for the thirty-one-day convention in 1920. They were paid $100 a day to record all of the proceedings. See Perry, Hubert Harrison Reader, 198. Halton's name was incorrectly recorded as “Holum,” probably because the stenographer did not have the opportunity to check name spelling. U.S. Census, Population Schedules, Georgia, 1910, 1920.

(91) . NW, 16 April 1921, 8.

(92) . NW, 4 June 1921, 9; Division Card File, UNIAR.

(93) . This phenomenon will be examined in chapter 6. The influence of the black elite of Atlanta and its close ties with the surrounding piedmont region may explain how Garveyism never took hold there. According to division charter numbers, Georgia's divisions were organized in the following order prior to August 1921: Brunswick, Fitzgerald, Baxley, Camilla, Kimbrough (Webster County), Waycross, Alma, Moultrie, Gardi, and Jesup. The parent body issued the next wave of charters as follows: Patterson, TyTy, Shingler, Coverdale, Oakfield, Pooler, Charity Grove (Worth County), Sylvester, Atlanta, Haylow, Limerick. We do not know when the remaining nine divisions received charters. See also appendix D.

(94) . Davis and Sims, Marcus Garvey, 147–70.

(95) . NW, 5 March 1921, 6.

(96) . NW, 30 September 1922, 8.

(97) . NW, 15 March 1924, 12.

(98) . NW, 27 March 1921, 2.

(99) . For a complete text of this address, so reminiscent of Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech, see NW, 4 March 1922, 10. S. V. Robertson was misidentified here as U. S. Robinson. Robertson served as UNIA commissioner for Georgia in 1922 before becoming high commissioner for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in 1923. See NW, 9 December 1922, 7.

(100) . NW, 27 May 1922, 8.

(101) . NW, 7 October 1922, 8; Hill, Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons, 51.

(102) . NW, 18 March 1922, 8; NW, 15 April 1922, 9.

(103) . NW, 22 September 1923, 7.

(104) . These ads were still appearing every week as late as 24 June 1922. See NW, 24 June 1922, 10.

(105) . For a discussion of the historiographical trend that emphasizes community networks among migrants and their home communities, see Trotter, Great Migration in Historical Perspective.

(106) . Hoare and Smith, Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, 6–10. Gramsci explains in the late 1920s that intellectuals who emerged from the peasantry tended to align with other social groups. He tentatively discusses the possibilities for African American intellectuals and is very perceptive in his analysis of what amounts to the mass leadership of a Garvey-style leader. See ibid., 21.

(107) . Mays and Nicholson, Negro's Church, 239–53.

(108) . Rogers, “Elaine Race Riots of 1919,” 143–44; Cortner, Mob Intent on Death; Stockley, Blood in Their Eyes; Desmarais, “Military Intelligence Reports on Arkansas Riots.”

(109) . Division Card File, UNIAR. The six most dynamic Mississippi UNIA divisions located within a fifty-mile radius of Elaine (Phillips County), Arkansas, included Clarksdale (Coahoma County), Merigold and East Mound Bayou (Bolivar County), Lambert (Quitman County), and Sumner and Vance (Tallahatchie County).

(110) . Rand McNally Commercial Atlas, 61st ed., 89–96; Rand McNally Commercial Atlas, 54th ed., 397.

(111) . E. J. Kerwin to the Chief, Bureau of Investigation (Pine Bluff, Ark.), GP 1:386.

(112) . NW, 9 December 1922, 5; NW, 31 December 1927, 3.

(113) . NW, 24 June 1922, 10.

(114) . NW, 6 October 1923, 7; NW, 9 August 1924, 11.

(115) . E. B. McKinney, the black vice president of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union in the mid-1930s, was a minister and a Garveyite. He was from Marked Tree, Crittenden County, in the heart of the east Arkansas Delta, and by 1930 he resided in Tyronza, Poinsett County. See E. B. McKinney–related correspondence in STFU Papers, April 1936–December 1938, particularly 29 July 1938, and 3, 11, 23 August 1938 (J. R. Butler to Norman Thomas), reel 2.

(116) . J. R. Butler to Norman Thomas, 23 August 1938, and E. B. McKinney to J. R. Butler, 31 August 1938, STFU Papers, reel 2.

(117) . Arkansas Gazette, 19 October 1919, 2.

(118) . Division Card File, UNIAR.

(119) . U.S. Census, Population Schedule, Arkansas, 1920.

(120) . NW, 1922–24. Contributions arrived weekly and were reported often, but for a particularly notable example of support from Blytheville, Armorel, Cotton Plant, and Twis (p.236) t, Arkansas, see NW, 28 October 1922, 10. Reports show fifty-two donations from Blytheville alone.

(121) . NW, 16 August 1924, 2.

(122) . NW, 7 June 1924, 12; NW, 5 April 1924, 12.

(123) . NW, 23 February 1924, 12; NW, 17 May 1924, 12.

(124) . U.S. Census, Population Schedule, Arkansas, 1920; Rand McNally Commercial Atlas, 61st ed., 93.

(125) . NW, 25 March 1922, 2; NW, 22 April 1922, 2; NW, 5 August 1922, 12.