The Three Black Women At The Heart Of Marcus Garvey's Success

marcus garvey with wife amy garvey
Briona Lamback
January 18, 2022

Like many Black organizations, women were the backbone of Marcus Garvey's United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). 

Also like many Black organizations, despite their contributions the UNIA was rife with patriarchal ideas that silenced women, pushing them to the footnotes of history.

Laura Adorkor Kofi migrated from Ghana with a vision to help unify Black people to their ancestral homeland. After accepting a National Field Director role at the UNIA, Kofi's passionate speeches encouraging repatriation increased the organization's memberships by the thousands. 

Garvey grew jealous of Kofi's popularity, however, and publicly defamed her – ultimately leading to her assassination. And she wasn't the only one who sexism tried to stop.

Amy Jacques Garvey, Marcus Garvey's second wife, was the co-creator of Garveyism. Her powerful intellect influenced her husband's ideologies, and she even researched and wrote some of his most celebrated speeches. She even convinced the United Nations to adopt an African Freedom Charter!

Madame de Mena was another vital leader of the UNIA. As a master organizer, she led the UNIA’s North American chapters, edited the Negro World newspaper, and was Marcus Garvey's representative globally.

The Women of the UNIA carried the organization, and they cannot be erased from history. Black liberation isn't reserved for only some of us. We must value ALL Black people in the liberation struggle!

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