This Way to Liberty

Hello, honey-drippings! Urbndervish here again—this time, Stateside. Eternitysojourner, Z, and myself are presently visiting our families in the U.S. While on this side of things, we had the opportunity to visit family members in Jamaica. Of course, our Jamaica experience is its own posting; however, we at least wanted to highlight our visit to the Liberty Hall Marcus Garvey museum in downtown Kingston.

The entrance of the museum was pretty impressive, bringing in tile-piece murals and modern architecture. The tile-piece murals were in the shapes of various African imagery—ranging from African moms to the Sankofa bird. We also witnessed the building plaque that identified the date that the Honorable Marcus M. Garvey established it. We were greeted by a museum curator who basically directed us to the interactive computerized tour guides.

The first thing that struck us was that we were the only people there. At some point, a lone young student walked in, but for the most part, we were alone in the museum. Although true to its grassroots founder by being accessible and situated in the middle of a working-class urban setting, the curator lamented the fact that many Jamaicans there do not patronize the museum. The curator also told us that they offer low-cost tutoring and other community-service ventures to continue the legacy of Marcus Garvey.

Once in the museum, one could see the various dimensions of the man known as Marcus Garvey. One corner of the museum is dedicated to dismissing the negative images of Africa as a backward jungle by featuring various video snippets of African youth dressed in modern hip-hop fashions and waxing poetic into the camera. I believe that the display was effective in countering the aforementioned image; however, the dilapidated buildings in the background of the video clips could not dismiss the image of Africa as impoverished.

Some of the computerized guides presented interesting information regarding the life and legacy of the Honorable Marcus Garvey. This included readable text, audio speeches, and video documentary clips. It was great to have such a multi-sensual experience!

To me, one of the most telling aspects of the life of Garvey was the vituperative attacks on him by the Negro intellectuals of his time. He was challenged both ideologically and personally in his pursuit of African liberation. Some of these critics included the likes of H. Phillip Randolph and W.E.B. Dubois. The ironic thing about his rivalry with Dubois is that Dubois faulted Garvey for his desire to return to Africa; yet, Dubois himself moved to Africa in the last part of his life.

All-in-all, the visit to the museum really served to revive the spirit of Pan-Africanism in us. We always perceived ourselves as being “conscious” and such; however, when reviewing the efforts and legacy of the Honorable Marcus Garvey, we saw fit to renew our commitment to the universal African plight.


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