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(1923) Marcus Garvey, “A Last Word Before Incarceration”

In 1923 Marcus Garvey was convicted on federal charges of mail fraud in connection with the sale of stock in the Universal Negro Improvement Associations Black Star Line.  Sentenced to prison, Garvey delivered his last address before a crowd at Liberty Hall in New York City on June 17, 1923.  That speech appears below.

Among the many names by which I have been called, I was dubbed by another name a couple days ago.  The district Attorney, with whom I have been contesting the case for my liberty and for the existence of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, in his fervid appeal, in his passionate appeal, to the gentlemen of the jury last Friday cried out: “Gentlemen, will you let the tiger loose?”

The tiger is already loose, and he has been at large for so long that it is no longer one tiger, but there are many tigers.  The spirit of the Universal Negro Improvement Association has, fortunately for us, made a circuit of the world, to the extent that harm of injury done to any one, will in no way affect the great membership of this association or retard its great program.  The world is ignorant of the purpose of this association.  The world is ignorant of the scope of this great movement, when it things that by laying low any one individual it can permanently silence this great spiritual wave, that has taken hold of the souls and the hearts and minds of 4000,000,000 Negroes throughout the world.  We have only started; we are just on our way; we have just made the first lap in the great race for existence, and for a place in the political and economic sun of men.

Those of you who have been observing events for the last four or five weeks with keen eyes and keen perceptions will come to no other conclusion than this—that through the effort to strangle the Universal Negro Improvement Association—through the effort to silence Marcus Garvey—there is a mad desire, there is a great plan to permanently lay the Negro low in this civilization and in future civilizations.  But the world is sadly mistaken.  No longer

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