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Chapter One The Education of Marcus Mosiah Garvey On the morning of October 11, 1865, men and women streamed out of the small black settlement of Stony Gut, Jamaica and trooped in military formation toward the town of Morant Bay, in the parish of St. Thomas in the East. They were armed with sticks and cutlasses; some carried guns. At their head was a Native Baptist preacher and peasant farmer named Paul Bogle. The columns marched first to the police station, which was ransacked for weapons, then headed to the courthouse, where they confronted the volunteer militia. As the Queen’s representative in the parish, Custos Baron von Ketelhodt, read the Riot Act, stones were lobbed at the volunteers by a group of women in the crowd, and the volunteers returned a volley of fire. In the ensuing chaos twenty-­ nine people were slain, including von Ketelhodt and seven volunteers. The rebellion quickly spread through neighboring sugar plantations and among freeholders. Bogle returned to Stony Gut and declared Jamaica liberated. “The iron bar is now broken in this parish,” he proclaimed. “War is at us, my black skin. War is at hand.”1 If the bloody Christmas revolt of 1831–­ 32 hastened emancipation in the British Empire, the Morant Bay rebellion unleashed the forces of reaction. Governor Edward John Eyre declared martial law and inaugurated a ruthless “reign of terror” that included indiscriminate and “barbarous” floggings , the burning of a thousand homes, and the deaths of more than four hundred—­ guilty and innocent alike—­ most by execution.Among the innocent was George William Gordon, the mulatto assemblyman, ally of Bogle and defender of Jamaica’s poor, shepherded from his home in Kingston to Morant Bay to face the military tribunal.Bogle was captured on October 23, and hanged the next day. By the end of the year, warning that Jamaica was on the verge of becoming “a second Haiti,” a haven for black licentiousness and creeping savagery, the governor had convinced the Legislative Assembly to suspend self-­ government and embrace the “strong government” of the Queen.2 The Morant Bay rebellion was one of the remarkable events of a remarkable year best remembered for the close of the Civil War—­ and with it, the 16 • Chapter One institution of slavery—­ in the United States. For British subjects of African descent, already released from bondage, the rebellion marked a “symbolic turning point” in the contest to define the parameters of citizenship and freedom in the postemancipation era, its destruction foreshadowing the coalescence of new and assertive imperial regimes by the end of the century.3 Since the revolutionary decades of the late eighteenth century, peoples of African descent had forged a rich intellectual tradition premised on an uncompromising commitment to abolitionism and natural rights, an investment in black “nation” making, and an unswerving faith in racial destiny, guided by the understanding that human perfectibility depended on the fulfillment of providential design—­ that “Princes shall come out of Egypt”; that “Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth her hands unto God”(Psalms 68:31). At times, as at Morant Bay, the advocacy and activism of transatlantic black spokesmen converged explosively with the radical democratic cultures of the black peasantry, often mediated by the contested public sphere of black Christianity. At other times, black intellectuals sustained their faith in a partnership with white allies, wagering that the European and American commitments to free labor, “civilization” building, and global proselytization would hasten the day when they and their race would be respected as Figure 1.1. Paul Bogle. The Education of Marcus Mosiah Garvey • 17 equal partners—­ “co-­ worker[s],” as W.E.B. Du Bois put it, “in the kingdom of culture.”4 By 1900, when delegates from Africa, the West Indies, Europe, and the United States assembled at the historic Pan-­ African Conference in London, the idealism and possibility of the postemancipation period had been undercut by a reinvigorated racial order that deemed Africans and their descendants perpetual hewers of wood and drawers of water,consigned for the distant future to tutelage under the administration and care of “civilized” European administrators. For members of the black intellectual diaspora, bearers and proponents of the pan-­ African tradition,the two decades before the First World War were a period of experimentation and halting steps. At the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, Booker T. Washington established a détente with white supremacy that had unexpected reverberations across the world.From the Gold Coast (now Ghana),barrister,author,and...


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MARC Record
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