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Garvey Day promotes socialism in Africa and beyond

Published Aug 27, 2007 9:33 PM

A wide range of progressive community organizations and individuals participated in the 19th annual Garvey Day in Milwaukee, sponsored by Africans on the Move, on Aug. 18. This year’s theme: “A United, Socialist Africa: The only solution for Africans at home and abroad.”

Marcus Garvey

“It was a very inspiring and inspirational event and a much needed event because of the crisis that African people are in globally, so this year’s theme, a ‘united socialist Africa’ was very well meaning,” Loretta Williams of Africans on the Move told Workers World.

Garvey Day celebrates the historical legacy and contributions of Marcus, Amy Jacques and Amy Ashwood Garvey and their family, founders of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and the “Back to Africa” movement.

Milwaukee has a long history of connections to Garveyism. Malcolm X’s mother, who once resided in Milwaukee with her children, was a member of the UNIA.

Events included members of the African diaspora from Milwaukee and nationwide participating in a diverse array of cultural activities, speakers talking on various progressive and revolutionary topics, children’s activities, and a parade.

The night before, a pre-Garvey Day social included a screening of “Bloqueo,” a film about Cuba’s socialist process, and a special tribute to Mr. Clayborn Benson, curator of the Wisconsin Black Historical Museum where the Garvey Day events were held. Mr. Benson founded the museum 20 years ago to showcase the contributions of people of African descent in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. The museum, similar to Milwaukee’s Black Holocaust Museum founded by the late Dr. James Cameron, has become nationally and internationally known due to the tireless and courageous efforts of these two people and many others from the Black Nation in Milwaukee.

Three organizations that work with Black youth—Campaign Against Violence, Running Rebels and Urban Underground—were also honored with community awards.

Joya Mosely, an African-American woman from Milwaukee studying in Cuba as part of that nation’s program to help 1,000 mostly oppressed people from the United States achieve their M.D.s, spoke after the Cuban film. She gave a moving presentation about her positive experiences on the socialist island and her struggle to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor and giving back to her community. She’s returning to the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana in September for her third year of studies.

A major focus of the Garvey Day celebration is political education. Topics throughout the two days this year included Cuba’s socialist process, the Cuban Five, anti-war discussions, the contributions of African socialists including Kwame Nkrumah and Walter Rodney, the immigrant rights struggle, supporting Alderman Michael McGee Jr. and Frank Jude Jr., police brutality, sexism, LGBT oppression, national oppression, Pan-Africanism and much more.

Asked about the significance of the 2007 Garvey theme, Loretta Williams and her twin sister Lolita, also a member of Africans on the Move, said that although it must be understood that oppressed people, particularly those of African descent, must have the right to self-determination and that every nation is unique, socialism is the only solution to capitalism/imperialism internationally.

Said Lolita Williams: “Socialism is a human extension and it provides for the basic needs. In a socialist society your basic needs are provided for. You might not have a Lexus or a Benz but you will sleep, eat, have education and with that you’ll be able to improve the quality of life for everyone.”