Gumby's People > Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey founded his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Jamaica in 1914; by the late 1910s and early 1920s it had grown to become one of the most visible institutional expressions of pan-Africanist thought in the United States. Given Garvey's base in New York City from 1916 onward, Gumby was well-positioned to document both the activist's life and UNIA's progress. Thus on the left-hand page (see: "Marcus Garvey," p. 40) above we see the program and torn ticket stub (apparently autographed by Garvey) from a meeting of the UNIA held at Madison Square Garden, as well as a clipping from the New York Times describing the meeting and paraphrasing the argument of Garvey's speech to be "that the colonization of Africa by the blacks was the one logical solution to the race problem."
The meeting memorialized by Gumby occurred in March 1924, just a few months after Garvey's release on bail while appealing his conviction on mail fraud charges stemming from his operation of UNIA and related projects like the Black Star ocean line. As it turned out, it was also not long before his re-arrest and eventual deportation to Jamaica. Perhaps this eventual fate was on Gumby's mind when he positioned the mementos of that meeting alongside sheet music for the "West Indies Blues" (see above right: "Marcus Garvey," p. 41). Although the song predated Garvey's deportation (and even referenced his success in a line that says "I'm gonna be a great big 'Mon'/ like my friend Marcus Garvey"), its lyrics begin: "Got my grip and trunk all packed,/ Steamship I'm gwine to take her,/ So good-bye old New York town,/ I'm gwine to Jamaica."