Saturday 15 July 2023


On July 20, 1914, The Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL), a black nationalist fraternal organization founded by the great Marcus Garvey was formed. The Pan-African organization enjoyed its greatest strength in the 1920s. The UNIA was the most influential anti-colonial organization prior to 1938.

In 1919, the UNIA purchased the first of what would be numerous Liberty Halls. Located at 114 West 138th Street, in Harlem, New York, the building had a seating capacity of 6,000. The single-level hall with low ceilings had previously been home to the Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle. It was dedicated on July 27, 1919. On Sunday evenings, it was the site of the weekly UNIA meeting; it also housed a restaurant. Later that year the Association organized the first of its two steamship companies and a separate business corporation.

The organization was founded to work for the advancement of people of African ancestry around the world. Its motto is "One God! One Aim! One Destiny!" and its slogan is "Africa for the Africans, at home and abroad!" The broad mission of the UNIA-ACL led to the establishment of numerous auxiliary components, among them the African Legion (a paramilitary group), the African Black Cross Nurses, plus businesses such as the Black Star Steamship Line and the Negro Factories Corporation.

At the height of his popularity the leader of the UNIA, Garvey would later be imprisoned, persecuted and deported to Jamaica in 1927. Many during that time had suspicions surrounding his surprising illness, and his subsequent death in London on June 10, 1940, at the relatively young age of 52.

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