Published Aug 27, 2011
The Obama administration has rejected a call for a posthumous presidential pardon for Marcus Garvey, calling it a waste of time and resources.
The denial of a pardon came only recently, in response to a campaign waged by attorney Donovan Parker, who had been writing Obama weekly since January 2011 calling for Garvey’s pardon.
The denial letter stated: “Many posthumous pardon requests would likely be based on a claim of manifest injustice, and given that decades have passed since the event and the historical record would have to be scoured to objectively and comprehensively investigate such applications, it is the Department’s position that the limited resources which are available to process requests for Presidential clemency — now being submitted in record numbers — are best dedicated to requests submitted by persons who can truly benefit from a grant of the request.”
So the Obama administration says pardoning Garvey is a waste of time and resources, yet he has found the time and resources to pardon a turkey on Thanksgiving.
The denial is ironic, considering that the struggle waged by the Garvey Movement in the early 1900s — and subsequent struggles influenced by it — set the stage for Obama’s election.
That the U.S. government even needed to deliver a black president to African people as a last ditch effort to undermine struggle for true self-determination is a direct effect of the struggles influenced by the Garvey Movement.
Marcus Garvey was the founder and leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL), a global organization of African people that held at least 11 million members during the early 1900s.
His work to organize for self-determination for African people has influenced every subsequent struggle of African people.
The U.S. government sought to destroy Garvey and his organization, including utilizing FBI agents to infiltrate his organization.
J. Edgar Hoover — the FBI director who initiated the vicious COINTELPRO war on the Black Power Movement of the Sixties — first made his name by destroying the Garvey Movement. It was to infiltrate Garvey’s movement that the FBI integrated.
Though Hoover stated in an October 1919 memo that Garvey had committed no “crime” to justify deporting him, the FBI eventually set the black leader up.
Garvey was imprisoned and, in 1927, deported to Jamaica.
Independentist vs. assimilationist struggle continues.
While ironic, it is not surprising that the Obama administration has taken a denial stance on the question of pardoning Garvey.
Obama represents the same trend that opposed Garvey in the 1900s.
Garvey represented the aspirations of African people for independence, self-determination and power over our own lives.
In opposition to him were assimilationists like W.E.B. DuBois and the NAACP, those who saw their future working within the oppressive system that exploits African labor and resources for its continued existence.
The assimilationists attacked Garvey while he was alive, uniting with the U.S. government to undermine Garvey’s movement, which was based among the African working masses.
Today, Obama represents the highest expression of the assimilationist trend.
His administration has already waged war on Africa in Libya, Somalia and elsewhere through AFRICOM, so it is only consistent that he would continue that trend by maintaining the criminalization of this African incredible leader.
The question we are left with is how the apologists — those who excuse Obama’s wars on Africa and African people — will attempt to explain this incident away.