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130 Years Ago – Marcus Garvey – Jamaican Prophet

August 17, 2017

Today is the 130th anniversary of the birth of Marcus Garvey, a founder of the black nationalist movement who was also considered a Rastafarian prophet.
Born in Jamaica, Garvey encouraged black people to return to Africa and reclaim it as their own.
Marcus Garvey, right, at a parade in Harlem in 1922.
Marcus Garvey, right, at a parade in Harlem in 1922.
Associated Press
“He was the first man to give Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny,” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1965.
In delivering his message, Garvey unintentionally spawned a religion when he said: “Look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is near.”
In 1930, Ras Tafari Makonnen — known thereafter as Haile Selassie — ascended to Ethiopia’s throne, which was taken as a fulfillment of Garvey’s words. Rastafarians immediately hailed Selassie as Jah, the Black Messiah.
Garvey was not a follower himself, but Rastafarianism spread across the globe several decades later with the help of reggae musicians, most prominently Bob Marley.
Selassie died in 1975, but Rastafarians remained convinced he was the living God. As Marley explained in an interview with The Times in 1977, “Many people, dey scoffers.”
“How can God die, mon?” Marley continued. “That’s why I wrote ‘Jah Live.’ ”
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