The descendants of Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican-born Black nationalist and 20th century activist is seeking a posthumous commutation of a nearly century old conviction from the Biden Administration.
According to The Washington Post, Garvey’s family says the U.S. government targeted and persecuted him for “his work to uphold racial justice for Black people in the African diaspora”
Garvey’s descendants urged former president, Barack Obama, to issue the full commutation, but he left office without doing so.
Garvey was arrested and convicted in 1923 for mail fraud, following Black Star Line — a company in which he founded — shipped out advertisements displaying a ship that the company didn’t own but was planning on purchasing, The Post said. He took on a $1,000 fine and a five-year prison bid, before his sentence was commuted in 1927 by President Calvin Coolidge. He was then deported to Jamaica and marked as an undesirable alien. He died in 1940 at age 52 in London.
“I think the pardon and indeed complete exoneration of Marcus Garvey is warranted,” said descendants’ representative, lawyer Anthony Pierce in a statement to The Hill. He continued, “given the sham prosecution that resulted in his conviction. President Trump has an easy decision to make when it comes to this pardon.”
Globally, Black Star Line was one of the very first Black-owned companies of its kind.
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Garvey, journalist, publisher and businessman, founded the Negro World newspaper and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1917. Garvey had a primary mission to unify people with African descent; he fought for Black nationalism as the leader of the Pan-Africanist movement. One of his many followers was Earl Little, a minister who was also the father of Malcolm X.
The pardon requested for Garvey arrives a little over a month after Homer Plessy’s pardon. Plessy, a Creole man from Louisiana, was arrested for boarding a whites-only train car. His arrest led to the Supreme Court case that implemented the “separate but equal” measure for segregated places, a standard that Garvey too fought for.