KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday November 15, 2016 – Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, has added his voice to calls for outgoing US President Barack Obama to grant a posthumous pardon to Jamaica’s first national hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, for his 1923 mail fraud conviction in the United States.
In a statement issued over the weekend, Sir Hilary said that Marcus Garvey was the victim of “trumped up charges orchestrated by the late J Edgar Hoover, the famously anti-black director of the US’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).”
Noting that Obama was himself the victim of racist campaigns, Sir Hilary added that the US president should exonerate Garvey before he leaves office as it is “the right and proper thing to do.”
“Garvey’s call for the upliftment of all Caribbean citizens through education and political engagement constitutes a critical part of the ideological and philosophical currents that gave birth to the University of the West Indies almost 70 years ago,” Sir Hilary continued.
“UWI’s mission and mandate are manifestations of Garvey’s struggles for quality education for the masses of Caribbean peoples, for self-respect, self-determination and cultural awareness in our region.”
Beckles’s call to exonerate Garvey comes as the Caribbean and the world observes the UN’s “Decade for People of African Descent.”
A petition campaigning for the scrapping of Garvey’s federal record has generated tens of thousands of signatures.
The campaign has the backing of the Caribbean Reparations Commission, the Jamaican Government, the New York-based Institute of the Black World 21st Century, and by members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the US House of Representatives, among others.
The campaign is currently being led by the Garvey family, headed by the Jamaican national hero’s son, New York surgeon Dr Julius Garvey. It aims to secure 100,000 signatures.
Marcus Garvey’s son wants President Obama to pardon his famous father. Time is running out. https://t.co/Fz1832tbNZ
— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) November 7, 2016
Dr Garvey presented his case for justice for his father to the Caricom Caucus of Ambassadors and embassy staff in Washington on September 6 at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS).
At the meeting, Dr Garvey explained that the appeal for the pardon was on the grounds that Marcus Garvey was unjustly prosecuted.
“Garvey’s charges and conviction effectively ended his political movement and eventually led to his deportation to Jamaica, his country of birth. The family, 93 years later, now seeks justice for Marcus Garvey with their campaign to have his charges exonerated,” Dr Garvey said.