Black Women : Wives Of Marcus Garvey: Amy 1 & 2


Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2009
Amy Ashwood Garvey (1897 -1969)

Amy Ashwood, feminist, playwright, lecturer, and pan-Africanist, was one of the founding members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association in Jamaica, and the first wife of Marcus Garvey. Ashwood was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, and spent several years of her childhood in Panama. She returned to Jamaica to attend high school and met Marcus Garvey at a debating society program in July 1914, when she was seventeen years old. Ashwood became the first secretary and a member of the board of management of the newly formed U.N.I.A. in 1914 - 1915. She worked with Garvey in organizing the inaugural meeting in Collegiate Hall in Kingston, the weekly Tuesday night elocution meetings, and the office that was soon established in a house on Charles Street rented by the Ashwood family. She also helped to establish the Ladies' auxiliary wing of the movement and was involved in early plans to build an industrial school.

According to her memoirs, Ashwood was courted by Garvey during those early years with love letters referring to her as "My Josephine" and signed from "Your devoted Napoleon, Marcus." The two became secretly engaged; her parents, who did not approve of the match, arranged her return to Panama in 1916. Garvey traveled to the United States the same spring. Ashwood and Garvey were reunited in New York in September 1918 and she became, in the words of a Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent, his "chief assistant, a kind of managing boss," working as she had in Jamaica to organize the movement in the United States. She became the general secretary of the organization in 1919 and was one of the first directors of the Black Star Line. She put her life on the line for Garvey, helping to shield him when he was shot by George Tyler at the U.N.I.A. offices in October 1919.

After their long courtship, Ashwood and Garvey were married in a private Catholic church ceremony, followed by an elaborate public ceremony and reception at Liberty Hall, on Christmas Day, 1919. But their marriage soon failed, and their relationship became acrimonious. Garvey finally obtained a divorce (which Ashwood challenged in court and never recognized) in July 1922, and later the same month, married Amy Jacques -- Ashwood's friend, maid of honor at the Garveys' 1919 wedding, and Ashwood's replacement as Garvey's companion and personal secretary since 1920.

In the years following her separation from Garvey, Ashwood became a world traveler and remained active in politics and the arts.

Tony Martin tells Amy Ashwood Garvey's story
published: Tuesday | May 8, 2007

For Dr. Tony Martin, lecturer at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, Liberty Hall at 76 King Street, Kingston, is the perfect place to present Amy Ashwood Garvey, Pan-Africanist, Feminist and Mrs. Marcus Garvey No. 1, Or, A Tale of Two Amies to the public.

It is not only that the Liberty Halls worldwide were at the heart of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), founded by Marcus Garvey, but this particular location was at the centre of a coup of sorts by his first wife, Amy Ashwood Garvey.

And it is there that Martin will present her story tomorrow, at 6:00 p.m., three days before the 38th anniversary of her death.

"She had a sort of coup in the UNIA," Martin said of Amy Ashwood Garvey. This was when she was in Jamaica between 1939 and 1944, a period when Mrs. Marcus Garvey No. 2, Amy Jacques Garvey, was also in Jamaica."

Branches of the UNIA

Marcus Mosiah Garvey, in his newspaper 'The Black Man', recorded the struggle of the unemployed before the 1938 Labour riots. - contributed

"There were two functioning branches of the UNIA. One would meet at Liberty Hall, while the other would meet at Eloweis Park," Martin said. The former was loyal to Amy Jacques and the latter to Amy Ashwood, but at one point Amy Ashwood "engineered a coup and took over Liberty Hall. She began calling herself president-general of the UNIA".

It could not have helped that Amy Jacques had been maid of honour at the wedding of Marcus Garvey and Amy Ashwood Garvey in 1919.

Amy Ashwood Garvey, Pan-Africanist, Feminist and Mrs. Marcus Garvey No. 1, Or, A Tale of Two Amies is the latest addition to what Martin calls the New Marcus Garvey Library. He published the first book in the ongoing series, Race First, in 1976, coming out of his Ph.D. dissertation in 1973. At 27 years in the making, Martin says "this is by far the longest I have spent on any book."

His most important source was Amy Ashwood Garvey's papers, consisting of letters, scripts and photographs. Martin points out that she wrote many manuscripts, none of which was published. The papers were in a number of locations, Martin accessing them from her friends Lionel Yard and Ivy Constable Richards, the National Library of Jamaica, in London and in Chicago from the former head of the UNIA, the Hon. Charles L. Jones.

The result of the research and honing of the text is "a mixed portrait ... I think she made her mistakes. As a biographer, I wanted to be true to the record. I found myself in some places having to walk a tightrope."

Martin pointed out that Amy Ashwood Garvey only lived with her husband for two to three months and "Garvey accused her of infidelity. My research suggests that this is the case. I couldn't leave it out of the book, but I didn't want her to look bad." Garvey also accused her of stealing and Martin says "it seemed she really did appropriate some money. I had to mention it, but pulled my punches."

"There are some positives. She was an important Pan-Africanist in her own right. In 1924, in London, she started an important organisation," Martin said. That was the Nigerian Progress Union, later to become the West African Students Union (WASU). "WASU is one of the most important organisations in the history of Pan-Africanism," Martin said, pointing out that Kwame Nkrumah was once president.

"In 1946, she was able to trace her ancestry back to Asante in Ghana...


Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2009
Amy Jacques Garvey (1896 - 1973)

Amy Jacques, editor, feminist, and race activist, was Marcus Garvey's second wife and his principal lieutenant during his incarceration in an Atlanta penitentiary from 1925 to 1927. Born in Jamaica, Jacques moved to the United States in 1917 and became involved in the Universal Negro Improvement Association the following year, after hearing Garvey speak. She became Garvey's personal secretary and traveling companion, as well as the office manager at U.N.I.A. headquarters and secretary of the Negro Factories Corporation, in 1920.

Jacques and Garvey married in July 1922, shortly after his divorce from his first wife, Amy Ashwood. During the period of Garvey's trial, conviction, and imprisonment on mail fraud charges (1923-1927), Jacques emerged as a major propagandist for him. In an effort to improve Garvey's reputation and raise funds to pay for his defense, Jacques published two volumes of his speeches and writings as Garvey's Philosophy and Opinions. She acted as his personal representative while he was in prison, traveling to speak at local U.N.I.A. divisions throughout the country, meeting with public officials and U.N.I.A. officers to carry out his directions, and organizing U.N.I.A. conferences and affairs. She became the associate editor of The Negro World (1924-1927), and introduced a new page, called "Our Women and What They Think," which carried international news about the status of women, poetry, profiles of leading black women and black female historical figures, and columns by and about members of the women's auxiliaries. After Garvey's deportation, Amy Jacques Garvey returned with him to Jamaica, and continued as a contributing editor of the U.N.I.A. paper in 1927-1928. She and Garvey toured England, France, and Germany in the spring and summer of 1928, and she wrote articles for The Negro World about her impressions.

Amy Jacques Garvey was the mother of Garvey's two sons, Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr., and Julius Winston Garvey, born in 1930 and 1933 respectively. When Garvey moved to England in 1934, she and the children stayed behind in Jamaica. The family was united only briefly after that time.

After Garvey's death in 1940, Jacques became a contributing editor to a black nationalist journal, the African, published in Harlem in the 1940s, and established the African Study Circle of the World in Jamaica in the late 1940s. She published Garvey and Garveyism in 1963.

“The Veiled Garvey: The Life and Times of Amy Jacques Garvey” is the first book-length biography of this important but unsung figure. Born in Jamaica in 1895 to an educated “brown” family, Amy Jacques suffered from bouts of malaria and, in order to live in a malaria-free area, moved in 1917 to Harlem. There she became involved in the UNIA, serving first as a traveling secretary and later as private secretary to its leader, to whom she was married in 1922. The following year, the government brought charges against Marcus Garvey — claiming fraudulent sale of shares in the UNIA’s black steamship line; over the next years he was imprisoned and eventually deported. (A number of factors — including the hostility of J. Edgar Hoover, Marcus Garvey’s lack of business acumen, and the antipathy of other black leaders — are said to have contributed to Garvey’s downfall.)

Thrust by these troubles, in her husband’s absence, into a prominent position in the UNIA, Amy campaigned for his release, kept his words and philosophy before the public, and developed a female Pan Africanist philosophy on the women’s pages of The Negro World.

“She blossomed,” says Taylor, “by honing her journalistic skills, writing commentary on the international situation, and refining her discourse on Jim Crow.” But it was after her husband’s death in 1940, she says, that Amy Jacques Garvey took flight as an independent thinker. While the UNIA lauded the promise of black capitalism, for example, Amy took note of its limitations. And she became less concerned with getting people to join the UNIA, says Taylor, than with getting Pan African ideas into existing organizations.

Treated like a queen
Amy Jacques Garvey also developed a thriving “network of correspondence” Taylor says, with world-renowned black leaders — among them author W.E.B. DuBois; Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana; and the first president of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe — and helped organize international Pan African conferences. Nkrumah, for one, had studied “The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey,” regarded as a Pan Africanist bible, which Amy Jacques Garvey had edited and published. “When some of these men became heads of state,” says Taylor, “they invited her over and treated her like a queen.”

Taylor’s work on Amy Jacques Garvey, along with her research projects before and since, helps to delineate lines of influence connecting phases of black feminist thought and black political activism through time. In the early ’90s, she was historical consultant for the Hollywood film “Panther,” directed by Mario Van Peebles, and co-wrote the accompanying pictorial book on the Black Panther Party and the movie. She is currently researching the history of the Nation of Islam — which, like Rastafarism, the Black Power movement of the 1960s, and other expressions of black nationalism, was influenced by Garveyism. “When the Nation of Islam started in the 1930s,” she says, “many early members, including Malcolm X’s parents, were former Garveyites.”

The legacy of Garveyism continues to the present day, and Taylor’s new biography pays homage to one who helped shaped its philosophy and spread its message.

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