Universal Negro Improvement Association
(The new Georgia Encyclopedia - History & Archeology)

The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) had at least thirty-four
divisions in Georgia during the early to mid-1920s. Black Georgians read its
newspaper, the Negro World, and contributed generously to many UNIA
causes. The UNIA's Jamaican founder, Marcus Garvey, had a significant
following in the South, particularly in rural areas among tenant farmers and

Marcus Garvey sharecroppers, for his programs of economic
independence, racial separatism, and African redemption. His ideas also
found strong support in urban areas with large black populations, in the
Caribbean, and in Africa.
Oscar C. Kelly of Dawson and C. L. Halton of Baxley were early organizers
for Garvey's group in Georgia. In 1920 both black men attended the UNIA's
first international convention, held in Harlem in New York City, and signed
the "Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World," which was
composed at that seminal meeting. The UNIA's Leader of American
Negroes, the Reverend J. W. H. Eason of North Carolina, organized several
areas in the southernmost part of Georgia during 1921, with the help of
Brunswick's F. W. Ware, the designated state organizer. Black clergymen
played an important role in promoting and organizing UNIA divisions in
Georgia. Brunswick hosted one of the largest divisions in the state; its
membership had grown to 600 by the beginning of 1921.
Georgia UNIA divisions formed in Adel, Alma, Atlanta, Baker County, Baxley,
Brunswick, Camilla, Center Hill (Colquitt County), Charity Grove (Worth
County), Clyatville, Columbus, Coverdale, Damascus, Decatur, Fitzgerald,
Gardi, Haylow, Howell, Jesup, Kimbrough (Webster County), Limerick,
Moultrie, Oakfield, Patterson, Pelham, Pooler, Powellton (Worth County),
Ray City, Savannah, Shingler, Sylvester, Ty Ty, and Waycross.
Southwest Georgia, the heart of the state's Black Belt, held the highest
concentration of organizations promoting the ideals of Garveyism. Worth
County contained five divisions, the most of any Georgia county. The
Reverend Eason drew a crowd of 10,000 for a UNIA rally outside of Pelham
in May 1922.
Garvey first visited Georgia in March 1917 to raise money for a
UNIA-sponsored school for industrial education in Jamaica.

UNIA FlyerBy the time of his second appearance, Garvey had vastly expanded his
plans and organization to include stock sales in the black-owned Black Star
Steamship Line, a vast program of economic uplift, the promotion of racial pride
and separatism, and the wresting of Africa from the control of white imperialist
nations. The most salient of these goals to blacks in rural Georgia were the ideas
of racial separatism and the redemption of Africa.
Other important visits to Atlanta during Garvey's career included a highly
controversial meeting with the Ku Klux Klan's acting imperial wizard, Edward
Young Clarke, in 1922. Garvey described the private meeting in detail to an
audience of confused supporters in Harlem. The text of this address was later
transcribed in the Negro World. According to Garvey, both leaders agreed that
sexual relations between the races and miscegenation, or the mixing of the races,
were repugnant. Garvey sought Clarke's approval of black men's efforts to prevent
such relationships, even if it required using force against whites. This
uncorroborated explanation won over most southern UNIA supporters but
permanently alienated most of America's black leaders of the day.
A few years later, Garvey spent almost three years in the Atlanta Federal
Penitentiary after a conviction for mail fraud. In 1927 his five-year sentence was
commuted by U.S. president Calvin Coolidge, and he was deported to Jamaica.
The UNIA in Georgia faded after his departure, but the ideals of Garveyism, such
as pride in blackness and a tendency to rely on self-defense rather than legal
protection, persisted. Cynicism about white leadership for black organizations also
influenced later strategies for the human rights struggle that blacks faced in
subsequent decades.
Garvey moved to London, England, in 1935 and died there on June 10, 1940. He is
buried in the National Heroes Park in Kingston, Jamaica.

Suggested Reading
Mary G. Rolinson, "The Garvey Movement in the Rural South, 1920-1927" (Ph.D.
diss., Georgia State University, 2002).
Mary G. Rolinson, "The Universal Negro Improvement Association in Georgia:
Southern Strongholds of Garveyism," in Georgia in Black and White: Explorations
in the Race Relations of a Southern State, 1865-1950, ed. John C. Inscoe (Athens:
University of Georgia Press, 1994), 202-24.
99 years old Garveyite
Division 421
We the members of the Dr.
Julius Nyerere/CBPM
Universal Negro
Improvement Association -
African Communities
League (UNIA-ACL) Division
421 operates proudly from
the Leadership of the 9th
Successor of the
Honorable Marcus Mosiah
Garvey and the 10th
President General of the
UNIA-ACL, the Honorable
Senghor Jawara Baye.  

We, the members of the
Dr. Julius Nyerere/CBPM
UNIA-ACL Division 421 of
Atlanta, Georgia, is hosting
the 55th International
UNIA-ACL Convention, the
first UNIA-ACL Convention
to be held in the State of
Georgia, in honor of the
tens of thousands of
Georgians who have been
part of the UNIA-ACL from
the 1920's until this time.  
Division 421 pays tribute to
our Ancestors who walked
on the soils of Georgia to
pave the way for Division
421 to be an official
Division of the Global
Government of the
Universal Negro
Improvement Association
and African Communities
League in the 21st Century.
One God, One Aim, One Destiny!
Declaration of
UNIA-ACL Division 421, Atlanta, GA
Sponsored by the UNIA-ACL Global Government
Become a Member
CBPM Store
CBPM Index:
For more Information:
Contact the Dr. Julius Nyerere/CBPM
UNIA-ACL Division 421: 678-827-2276
Get Listed in the 55th International UNIA-ACL Convention Listing.
$10 Non Food Listings -  $20 Food Listing.  Complete Following:
10th President
General of the
Senghor Baye