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INTRODUCTION
The present volume marks the second volume to be published of the Caribbean
Series within the larger edition of The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro
Improvement Association Papers. It covers a period of twelve months, from the
opening of the UNIA’s historic first international convention in New York,
held in August 1920, to Marcus Garvey’s return to the U.S. in mid-July 1921
after an extended sojourn in the Caribbean and Central America. It was a
period marked by some glittering political triumphs, but also by intensifying
financial problems that would undercut those political gains. The documents in
the present volume display both sides of this dual dynamic as it unfolded in
both the U.S. and the Caribbean.
The August 1920 convention in many ways marked the high-point of the
Garvey movement in the U.S., while Garvey’s tour of the Caribbean, in the
winter and spring of 1921, registered the greatest outpouring of popular sup-
port for the UNIA in its history. In this sense, the period covered in the present
volume represents the moment of political apotheosis for the movement, but
also the moment when the finances of Garvey’s Black Star Line went into free-
fall.
The preceding volume, the first of the Caribbean Series, culminated in
July 1920, on the eve of the UNIA’s historic convention of August 1920. The
first volume traced the political and organizational preparation leading up to
the convention; by the time that the convention opened, the entire apparatus of
the UNIA had moved into high gear for an event unprecedented in the annals
of the black world. Only two years previously, Marcus Garvey was still a politi-
cal unknown; by 1920, he had been transformed into a figure of international
political significance, and was arguably the most famous black man in the
world.
The present volume shows the centrality of Caribbean people not only to
the convention, but also to the movement of which the convention itself was
the organizational expression. The reports to the convention discussed the
range of social and economic conditions obtaining in the Caribbean, particu-
larly their impact on racial conditions. The quality of the discussions and
debates were impressive. Contained in these reports are some of the earliest and
most clearly enunciated statements in defense of social and political freedom in
the Caribbean. These documents form a hitherto underappreciated and still
underutilized record of the political awakening of Caribbean people of African
descent.
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