On August 17th, we came together to commemorate the birth of a visionary leader, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, whose enduring impact on the global struggle for Black empowerment and unity continues to resonate today. Born in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, in 1887, Garvey’s legacy serves as an everlasting source of inspiration for generations advocating justice, equality, and self-determination.

Marcus Garvey’s life was characterized by unwavering dedication to uplifting the Black community, both in his homeland and across the African diaspora. In 1914, he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), an organization committed to promoting self-reliance, economic independence, and cultural pride among Black people worldwide. Through his compelling speeches, prolific writings, and tireless advocacy, Garvey ignited a spark of hope and unity in the hearts of millions.

One of Garvey’s most impactful ideas was the concept of “Black nationalism,” which emphasized the creation of independent Black nations and the cultivation of pride in African heritage. His call for a “Back-to-Africa” movement deeply resonated with many, encouraging members of the diaspora to reconnect with their roots and contribute to the development of Africa. While this idea has evolved over time, its essence laid the foundation for discussions on identity, belonging, and the unity of the African diaspora.

Garvey’s work extended beyond theory into practical action. He established the Black Star Line, a shipping company designed to facilitate trade and travel among Black communities. This initiative aimed to provide economic opportunities and challenge the systemic barriers hindering Black progress. Garvey’s efforts reflected his belief that true empowerment could only arise from within the community itself.

Despite encountering formidable challenges and opposition, Garvey’s influence continued to grow, leaving an indelible mark on the civil rights and liberation movements that followed. Leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledged Garvey’s impact on their own thinking and strategies. His teachings continue to inspire contemporary movements striving for racial justice, equity, and the celebration of Black culture.

WorldBeat Center annually commemorates Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s birthday to honor his enduring message of self-reliance, unity, and the unwavering pursuit of justice. His legacy serves as a reminder that the fight for equality is ongoing, and the power to effect change lies within the collective determination of communities rising above adversity. Garvey’s words and actions remain a guiding light, urging us to continue striving for a world where every individual is valued, empowered, and free from the shackles of discrimination.

This year’s celebration took place on Sunday, August 20th, and was joined by renowned reggae artists, including Michael Palmer, Rob Symeonn, Empress Akua, and Link N Chain. Garvey’s philosophies of Black pride, unity, and the desire to uplift the African diaspora profoundly influenced reggae’s lyrical themes and messages of resistance against oppression. Reggae artists, most notably Bob Marley and Burning Spear, incorporated Garvey’s teachings into their music, using the genre as a powerful medium to spread Garvey’s ideals and inspire a global movement for social justice, echoing the spirit of empowerment and unity that Garvey championed. The celebration at WorldBeat Center (2100 Park Blvd, San Diego, 92101) featured an evening of reggae music and unity, serving as a testament to the enduring legacy of Marcus Garvey.