We admire the breadth of his stout shoulders and the prominence of his wise brows. We adore the cadence of his powerful voice and the handsome path he cut as he strode his way through life. We honor his words and the strength of his actions. We love his deep, dark chocolate skin. And - most of all – we love the way he loved us.

The love Marcus had for his people – us – was a mighty love that launched ships. Ships that allowed thousands of black dreams to sail through previously uncharted territories. It was a love that sent shivers of hope through many on overseas shores. A love that caused him to toil tirelessly, night and day, standing on street corners giving speeches, publishing newspapers, and serving jail time so we could have liberty. He put bone in our back and pride in our black. He told us “God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement.”

We love Marcus because of the great passion he had for his people. He was our staunch supporter when so many were against us. He was our black star, guiding us towards freedom. We love Marcus because he taught us to love ourselves. So what kind of woman could equal the passion and power of Marcus enough to be his wife? Well, not one, but two women fit that description. Marcus Garvey was married twice, both times to a woman named Amy. Who were these women? And what qualities did they possess that made Marcus Mosiah Garvey, arguably the most pivotal figure in the black liberation movement, choose them to be his wives?

Amy Jacques Garvey, (January 1897 – May 1969) was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica but spent some of her early years in Panama. She was reputedly of Ashanti descent – a powerful, proud and fierce people predominantly from Ghana and the Ivory Coast region of Africa – to which we might be able to attribute her fighting spirit. She was married to Marcus from 1919 to 1922 but claimed to be his “real” wife and continued their mission of the advancement of ‘colored’ people long after their divorce. She was a staunch supporter of women’s rights and lectured throughout the Caribbean, the Americas, West Africa, & Europe on that topic and about the need for unity amongst people of African descent.

Among her many achievements:

  • Co-founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and organised a woman’s section
  • Worked as Marcus’ aide and as Secretary to the UNIA’s New York branch
  • Founded the Nigerian Progress Union and supported the West African Students’ Union
  • Campaigned for Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
  • Co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Coloured People in London

Great Quote: “A nation without great women is a nation frolicking in peril. Let us go forward and lift the degradations which rest on the Negro woman – God’s most glorious gift to all civilizations.” – Amy Ashwood Garvey

Amy Jacques Garvey lived from December 1895 to July 1973. A journalist & activist in her own right, she was born in Kingston, Jamaica where she was educated at the finest schools. She moved to New York in 1917 and became involved with the works of Marcus Garvey, marrying him in 1922 – which was ironic seeing as she had served as bridesmaid to his first wife, Amy Ashwood Garvey, only three years earlier! She gave birth to Garvey’s two sons, Marcus Garvey, Jr. and Julius Garvey, and stood by her man through thick and thin, becoming his defender and spokesperson during the years that Garvey was incarcerated.

Among her many achievements:

  • Office manager of the United Negro Improvement Association
  • Associate editor of Negro World newspaper and creator and manager of a page entitled “Our Women and What They Think”
  • Published three volumes of The Philosophy & Opinions of Marcus Garvey, her book Garvey & Garveyism, and a booklet “Black Power in America: The Power of the Human Spirit”
  • Lifelong activist for black empowerment and feminism

Great Quote:  ” … Negroes everywhere must be independent, God being our guide. Mr. Black man, watch your step! Ethiopia’s queens will reign again, and her Amazons protect her shores and people. Strengthen your shaking knees, and move forward, or we will displace you and lead on to victory and glory.”  Amy Jacques Garvey

Caribbean women have played an interesting role in the history, politics, and economy of the region for decades. They have been a part of almost every political experiment and experience, including slavery, colonialism, and independence, particularly in the English-speaking Caribbean. In recent years, Caribbean women’s activism has moved from the limited areas of traditional women’s organizations such as religious groups and social gatherings to more active domains of the labor movement, employment, and politics.Throughout history, women in the Caribbean have participated in large-scale mobilization and organization within the labor movement and political organizations. [1] The achievements of known, and unknown, Caribbean women serve as examples to us that if we were to each choose a cause and advocate strongly for that cause, we can change the world in tremendous ways.

Sources:

1. http://gibraltarcomm.hubpages.com/hub/Caribbean-Women-Activism

2. http://blackhistorypages.net/pages/agarvey.php

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Ashwood_Garvey

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Jacques_Garvey

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