Garvey Must Go
Garvey Must Go
The Black Press and the Making and Unmaking of Black Male Leadership
This chapter reinterprets the New Negro era as an intense moment of jockeying for racial leadership among certain black male leaders and black male publishers in Harlem. This chapter argues that when Marcus Garvey arrived in Harlem to build his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), he stepped into a crucible of New Negro thought, organizing, and publications with competing visions for racial advancement. The UNIA’s businesses and paper, the Negro World, helped make Garvey the premier black leader of his day. But debates about his ideas among many black leaders quickly led to a public war of words between Garvey and critics in which they strove to use their papers to destroy the leadership of the other. Garvey used the Negro World to perform a rhetorical emasculation of critics. Garvey’s critics retaliated with the “Garvey Must Go” campaign. It not only laid bare a contentious battle in print among rival black male leaders, but also the influence the black press now had to elevate and/or destroy black male leadership.
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