What 'Back to Africa' Means

An essay by Marcus Garvey from the January 30, 1926 Negro World Weekly Newspaper.

Having-traveled for hundreds of years across the deserts and prairies of human prejudice, we have now, arrived at the crossroads of racial destiny. Each and every race today seems to be traveling in its own direction. The great human family has divided itself and each unit feels that there is a peculiar goal to be reached. Hence, we hear the cry of “Japan for the Japanese!” “ China for the Chinese!” “India for the Indians!” “ Europe for the
Europeans!” And now the 400,000,000 Negroes of the world are shouting in tones stentorian “Africa for the Africans!”

Not only has humanity divided, but it has become more suspicious. No one group will believe the professed intentions of the other, in that selfishness of purpose has so surrounded us that it is apparent that truth, love, honesty, charity have .taken, their flight to another world. Because of the absence of these virtues man is not disposed to pass his destiny over to his brother, but seeks to find his own. Just at this time, therefore, it becomes opportune for the Negro, amidst all the environments of aggression, and heated preparedness on the part of others, to strike out along his own lines and build for himself an independence, a power through which he can live secure.

It does not mean that all Negroes must leave America and the West Indies and go to Africa to build up a government. It did not take all the white people of Europe to come over to America to lay the foundation of the
great republic; therefore, those who write disparagingly of the grand program of Africa for the Africans are,doing so without paying any attention to history.

I desire each and every one to realize that the Universal Negro Improvement Association is not teaching Negroes to discard or to throw away opportunities that may be beneficial to them; to the Contrary, we say to all Negroes in America, the West Indies and elsewhere, seize all opportunities that come to you, but remember our success educationally, industrially and politically is based upon the protection of a nation founded by ourselves. And that nation can be nowhere else but in Africa.

Some people seem to think that the program of the Universal Negro Improvement Association Is too big, too elaborate. But what of the program of other races and nations? Are they big, are they elaborate? What about
the program of Ireland, what about the program of Egypt, what about the program of India? Are they elaborate? What do they seek? They seek freedom, complete independence for the people who make up these countries, and so we of the Universal Negro Improvement Association seek a program that, will bring about freedom for the, four hundred million Negroes of the world.

For the consummation of this program it is our bounden duty to-work unceasingly night and day with might and main. We must do this, or brand ourselves as pigmies occupying a place that is our due on the fringe of the civilization of others!


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