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Chapter Five The Tide of Preparation I can now see the tide rising to bring us into what truly belongs to us. . . . I am going to follow because the living program [of Garveyism] is the tide of preparation and the seed is the powerful nation that will ultimately evolve ...to establish with dignity the seat of government in Africa. —­ Ruth E. Jerome, Garveyite from Atlantic City, NJ, 1926 On the evening of March 12, 1927 Arthur S. Gray found himself sharing the stage with a compelling cast of characters.Edgar Owens of the Communist Party sat to his side, accompanied by a representative from the Socialist party; a young Chinese student and an older Chinese man were joined by a representative of the People’s Party in India. The occasion was the second anniversary of the passing of Sun Yat-­ Sen. A celebration was being held at the headquarters of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomingtang) in San Francisco. A nationalist icon in China, Sun was also revered as a symbol of anti-­ imperialism and self-­ determination for nonwhite peoples. Months before his death Sun had delivered an impassioned speech in Kobe, Japan, appealing for a “Pan-­ Asianism” that would combine the resources of nations stretching from Egypt and Turkey to China and Japan,thereby ending European aggression and interference,relieving the sufferings of Asian peoples , and restoring the continent to its former glory. Sun challenged Japan, which he warned had assimilated the Western “rule of Might,” to lead the Orient in a civilizational clash: to seek “a civilization of peace and equality and the emancipation of all races” rather than one guided by power, prejudice , and chauvinism.1 Befitting the occasion, the speakers, one after the other, echoed Sun’s refrain . Edgar Owens advocated a direct and unflinching assault on the ramparts of Western imperialism, noting that China had received the recognition and consideration of the foreign powers only after she had ceased to be peaceful. The representative from India declared Asian civilization 130 • Chapter Five superior to the “utilitarian and militaristic civilization of the Occident,” expressed outrage at the crimes of English empire builders and caretakers, and launched into an appeal for the cooperation of the “darker races” of the world against white supremacy and “overlordship.” Enumerating the hundreds of millions of Indians, Asiatics, and Africans, he declared, “if we will all unite against this common imperialism, we can obtain our freedom in the next fifteen years!”2 Arthur Gray was the leading light of the Oakland division of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, longtime Garveyite, Negro World contributor, and soon to be named High Commissioner for the States of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California. He was enthralled and energized by the meeting. Asked to deliver a short speech, he outlined the “striking similarity” between the programs of Sun and Marcus Garvey. Negroes, he noted, were a little further behind in their program of political emancipation , in “the educational and organization stage” and “hoping to advance to the development and national stage soon.” But they were “very much encouraged by the progress made by the Chinese in their rapid awakening and adjustment of their own affairs.” In his breathless report to Amy Jacques Garvey, Gray boasted that he had been invited to attend regular mass meetings of the San Francisco Koumintang, and that he had arranged for a Chinese representative to speak at an upcoming meeting of the Oakland UNIA. Having already established contacts with Asian activists, both in formal meetings like this one and more informally at local restaurants and cafés, Gray hoped that the enthusiasm demonstrated for the UNIA’s program of African redemption by his Chinese friends and by Japanese “men of affairs” might translate into concrete political alliances in the pursuit of common goals.3 Garveyism was built, disseminated, and sustained in the United States on the foundation of an intoxicating narrative of revolution. Viewing the recently completed war as a portentous turning point in world history, and anticolonial struggles across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas as evidence of an inexorable rise of peoples of color against a decadent and declining white civilization,Garveyites projected their efforts to awaken,organize ,and educate African Americans onto a global canvas of reorganization, mobilization and—­ in the event of white intransigence—­ international race war. As the heady days of the immediate postwar period gave way to the reaction and intolerance of the 1920s, and as the primary vessel and purveyor of Garveyism, the Universal Negro Improvement...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400852444
Related ISBN
9780691157795
MARC Record
OCLC
884645721
Pages
320
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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