On Aug. 17, 1887, Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. was born in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, to Marcus Mosiah Garvey Sr., a mason, and Sarah Jane Richards, a domestic worker. The youngest of 11 children, Garvey, along with his sister Indiana, were the only two to survive to maturity.

Naturally apt to revolutionary thought and action, in his young adult years he became a trade unionist, and in 1907 was elected vice president of the compositors’ branch of the printers’ union.

Later, Garvey moved to England to study at Birbeck College where he interacted with other people of African descent who were involved in the struggle to gain independence from Britain.

Inspired, he returned to Jamaica and established the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). He then began to formulate ideas based on the philosophies and ideals of Booker T. Washington.

By 1916, Garvey launched a tour around the United States, gaining the support of more than 2 million African Americans, who joined the UNIA. By 1920, membership had soared to 4 million.

The organization campaigned against injustices against Black people and promoted self-sufficiency. Garvey became famous for his saying to the Pan African community, “Africa for the Africans.”

Garvey promoted the return to Africa, both mentally and physically. In 1919, he established the Black Star Line, a shipping line that transported goods and African Americans throughout the African global economy. Due to its rapid success, the Black Star Line garnered mass appeal, but it also attracted investigations by U.S. government officials. Garvey and four other Black Star Line officers were charged with mail fraud, causing the shipping line to collapse. Garvey was eventually deported. Despite these setbacks, Garvey continued to fight for the economic and political liberation of Black people around the world.

His many travels and petitions for African people included a trip to Geneva in 1928 to present the Petition of the Negro Race, in which was outlined the global abuse of Africans to the League of Nations.

His other organization efforts are numerous.

On June 10, 1940, Garvey read an obituary of himself in the Chicago Defender. Scholars debated that the article was written to dismantle the Garvey movement. After reading the article, Garvey suffered two strokes and died. However, some argue that he was poisoned on a boat on which he was traveling and died as a result of that.

He was married twice, once to Jamaican Pan-African activist Amy Ashwood in 1919 (divorced in 1922), and then to Amy Jacques in 1922.