WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17: Rastafarians may believe that Haile Selassie is their Messiah, but it’s the philosophies of Marcus Garvey that have largely shaped the Jamaican movement—and today is the birth anniversary of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. Garvey spent a lifetime promoting economic and social empowerment for blacks, and besides pushing Black Nationalism, he firmly believed that Africans of the Diaspora should return to Africa and claim it from European powers. (Wikipedia has details.) For Rastafarians, Garvey is looked upon as a prophet—some say a reincarnation of John the Baptist—because he preached of a black king that would be crowned for deliverance. Garvey spoke of the black king in 1920, and 10 years later, Haile Selassie I was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia. (Read more at the BBC website.)
Marcus Garvey garnered as much criticism as he did support during his career, but his influence has spread worldwide and continues today. Rastas celebrate the prophet’s birthday today, and several schools, roads, buildings, statues and more exist worldwide in Garvey’s honor. (Get the whole scoop at MarcusGarvey.com.) Today in New York, the Marcus Garvey Annual Family Fun Day offers performances, African and Caribbean cuisine, children’s activities and a soccer tournament to raise awareness of Garvey’s influence.