The 11th President General Michael R. Duncan and High Chancellor Raymond S. Dugae of the Universal Negro Improvement Association And African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) visited Marcus Garvey Elementary School, February 10th, as part of the President General’s 3-day trip to meet with Chicago’s UNIA Divisions 401 and 429, according to Shaka Barak. The program was coordinated by Barak, President of the Marcus Garvey Institute, and Garnett Hall.
The entire school, located in Roseland, on 103rd and Morgan, brought together grades pre-K to 8th graders (270 students enrolled), teachers, community leaders and UNIA representatives, who assembled in the school’s gymnasium to learn about the life and legacy of Marcus Garvey.
Lady President of UNIA Division 429, Georgia Johnson led the entire school in the singing of the Ethiopian Anthem. Also, during the program, 5th and 6th graders read poems written by Garvey.
The President General said, “I’m just amazed to see how orderly the students are. It shows the high efforts and organizational skills of this school. It is a beautiful thing to be here in the Marcus Garvey School. We want to help them become Garveyites because we do believe that as our children learn more about Garvey and Garveyism, they will turn love into hate.”
During the event, Principal Michelle Van Allen received a red, black and green flag given by local UNIA President Clyde Banks on behalf of the President General, who was also born in Jamaica.
Van Allen, who has been a principal at the school for more than 12 years said that it was imperative that the students be made aware of Marcus Garvey’s UNIA movement. “The event was excellent and it empowered our children to be more and do more and to learn more about Marcus Garvey. It is important for them to not just hear from us, but from different perspectives and to be able to have a participatory experience,” she said.
High Chancellor Dugae expressed elation of the program. “What I see brings hope, and I see the school is going in the right direction. What Shaka Barak and others did to put this program together is commendable. The program is a wonderful expression to our people. I don’t think these children could have had a better appreciation of what Mr. Garvey brings.”
During the event, Barak displayed more than seventy-five documents including photos of Marcus Garvey, his wife Amy, high ranking officers of the movement and images of economic development programs launched by Garvey.
The students also participated in a libation ceremony carried out by 82-year-old UNIA elder, Kamvon Johnson. According to Barak, libation is a traditional African ceremony where one pays tribute to the African ancestors.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born in St. Anne Bay, Jamaica on August 17, 1887. In 1914, Garvey started the Universal Negro Improvement Association in Jamaica to galvanize Black repatriation to Africa. Garvey felt all Blacks should return to the Motherland. Under his leadership, he launched an economic development program which included the purchase of the Black Star Line. According to Bio.com, the Black Star Line was a shipping company that established trade and commerce between Africans in America, the Caribbean, South and Central America, Canada and Africa.
The website also stated that Garvey started the Negros Factories Association, a series of companies that would manufacture marketable commodities in every big industrial center in the Western hemisphere and Africa. The site also stated that Garvey is also given credit for starting the Black Press with the publishing of the Negro World. In 1935, there were more than 12 million Black people enrolled in Garvey’s Nationalist movement. Garvey’s work inspired Malcolm X and Martin Luther King among others.