Today June 27, 2015 marks 96 years since the incorporation of the Black Star Line by Marcus Garvey and members of the UNIA. The Black Star Line was incorporated in Delaware on June 27, 1919.
The initial authorized capital of the Black Star Line was $500,000. The initial shares were only 100,000 selling for $5 each. In six months the Market Capitalization of the Black Star Line was increased to $10,000,000 at a Board of Directors meeting held on November 14, 1919.
The first directors of the Black Star Line were Marcus Garvey, Edgar M. Grey, Richard E. Warner, George Tobias, Jeremiah Certain, Henrietta Vinton Davis, and Janie Jenkins.
The Officers of the corporation elected at the first Directors meeting were:
President — Marcus Garvey
First Vice Preseident — Jeremiah Certain
Second Vice President — Henrietta Vinton Davis
Treasurer — George Tobias
Secretary — Richard E. Warner
Assistant Secretary — Edgar M. Grey
Assistant Treasurer — Janie Jenkins
The Black Star Line is more than just a commercial venture. In addition to it being a model for teaching Black children the details of corporations and how they operate from a Black perspective, the BSL possibly is not only the first members owned corporation but also an early example of an employee owned corporation. The directors and officers were required to be members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, an organization founded by Marcus Garvey. Additionally, any member of the UNIA could be employed in the Black Star Line. As this potentially provided employment for UNIA members it had an economic benefit in that it was sustainable through membership fees from members who were both employees of the corporation and its shareholders. It was the UNIA policy to control the corporation to help the UNIA Parent Body carry out its objectives.