Change This Bloody Thing

Marcus Garvey (1887 – 1940)

“Progress is the attraction that moves humanity.”

Marcus Garvey

White and Black

by Marcus Garvey

The white man held the blacks as slaves,
And bled their souls in living death;
Bishops and priests, and kings themselves,
Preached that the law was right and just;
And so the people worked and died,
And crumbled into material dust.
Good God! The scheme is just the same
Today, between the black and white
Races of men, who gallop after fame.
Can’st Thou not change this bloody thing,
And make white people see the truth
That over blacks must be their king,
Not white, but of their somber hue,
To rule a nation of themselves


Marcus Garvey is a complex figure, a poet, a visionary, an entrepreneur, a successful businessman, an orator and a key figure in the idea of a homeland for African Americans in Africa as part of  reparations in the United States and elsewhere for slavery.   He didn’t mince words.   I have known several people named Marcus and it was by no coincidence, it was in honor of the best of this man.    

Garvey was proud of his African heritage and spoke of empowering Africans everywhere for a better future.   He advocated that change had to be both economic and political, that African Americans had to prosper for all of America to prosper.  Though he remains a national hero in his birth place Jamaica, he was decidedly controversial.  Garvey’s writing was both admired and disliked among the African diaspora, with some viewing him as self serving in promoting his own business interests, but also some within his own community criticized him as a demagogue,  his ideas sometimes blurred by prejudice against Jews and mix-ed race individuals.  His writing and ideas have had a lasting influence on Rastafarianism, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Power Movement.  


Village Blues

by Michael S. Harper

The birds flit
in the blue palms,
the can workers wait,
the man hangs
twenty feet above;
he must come down;
they wait for the priest.
The flies ride on the carcass,
which sways like cork in a circle.
The easter light pulls him west.
The priest comes, a man
sunken with rum,
his face sandpapered
into a rouge of split
and broken capillaries.
His duty is the cutting
down of the fruit
of this quiet village
and he staggers slowly, coming.

Those Who Know

shutterstock-garvey
Marcus Garvey

 

I am not proud that I am bold
Or proud that I am black.
Color was given me as a gauge
And boldness came with that.

Helene Johnson

The Tired Worker

By Claude McKay

O whisper, O my soul! The afternoon
Is waning into evening, whisper soft!
Peace, O my rebel heart! for soon the moon
From out its misty veil will swing aloft!
Be patient, weary body, soon the night
Will wrap thee gently in her sable sheet,
And with a leaden sigh thou wilt invite
To rest thy tired hands and aching feet.
The wretched day was theirs, the night is mine;
Come tender sleep, and fold me to thy breast.
But what steals out the gray clouds like red wine?
O dawn! O dreaded dawn! O let me rest
Weary my veins, my brain, my life! Have pity!
No! Once again the harsh, the ugly city.


 

Those Who Know

by Marcus Garvey

You may not know, and that is all
That causes you to fail in life;
All men should know, and thus not fall
The victims of the heartless strife.
Know what? Know what is right and wrong,
Know just the things that daily count,
That go to make all life a song,
And cause the wise to climb the mount.

To make man know, is task, indeed,
For some are prone to waste all time:
It’s only few who see the need
To probe and probe, then climb and climb,
The midnight light, the daily grind,
Are tasks that count for real success
In life of those not left behind,
Whom Nature chooses then to bless.

The failing men you meet each day,
Who curse their fate, and damn the rest,
Are just the sleeping ones who play
While others work to reach the best.
All life must be a useful plan,
That calls for daily, serious work-
The work that wrings the best from man-
The work that cowards often shirk.

All honour to the men who know,
By seeking after Nature’s truths:
In wisdom they shall ever grow,
While others hum the awful “blues”
Go now and search for what there is-
The knowledge of the Universe-
Make it yours, as the other, his,
And be as good, but not the worse.