Grassroots Garveyism: The Universal Negro Improvement Association in the Rural South, 1920-1927 / Edition 1

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Overview

The black separatist movement led by Marcus Garvey has long been viewed as a phenomenon of African American organization in the urban North. But as Mary Rolinson demonstrates, the largest number of Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) divisions and Garvey's most devoted and loyal followers were found in the southern Black Belt. Tracing the path of organizers from northern cities to Virginia, and then from the Upper to the Deep South, Rolinson remaps the movement to include this vital but overlooked region.

Rolinson shows how Garvey's southern constituency sprang from cities, countryside churches, and sharecropper cabins. Southern Garveyites adopted pertinent elements of the movement's ideology and developed strategies for community self-defense and self-determination. These southern African Americans maintained a spiritual attachment to their African identities and developed a fiercely racial nationalism, building on the rhetoric and experiences of black organizers from the nineteenth-century South. Garveyism provided a common bond during the upheaval of the Great Migration, Rolinson contends, and even after the UNIA had all but disappeared in the South in the 1930s, the movement's tenets of race organization, unity, and pride continued to flourish in other forms of black protest for generations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A brilliant, compelling, and completely convincing revision of the meaning of Garveyism as a whole."—Church History

"Should be required reading for anyone interested in African-American or southern history in the twentieth century. . . . A valuable study of a neglected aspect of the Garvey movement."—Georgia Historical Quarterly

"Makes valuable contributions to our understanding of the Garvey movement and black Southern life, bringing gender analysis to bear on these topics in new and productive ways."—Journal of American Studies

"Recommended."—CHOICE

"Offers fascinating glimpses into heretofore hidden corners of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. . . . A welcome addition to the Garvey literature."—American Historical Review

"Technically solid, with clear writing and organization, and would be ideal for classroom use with undergraduates. . . . Nicely balances more general social history with well-timed accounts from inside and outside the UNIA."—Historian

"In addition to providing a new angle to the historiography on Marcus Garvey, Rolinsons's monograph contributes another link in the black freedom struggle."—North Carolina Historical Review

"Not only shines much needed light on an overlooked segment of Garveyites but also illuminates the interior lives of rural black Southerners. . . . A welcome addition to the scholarship of Garveyism."—Arkansas Historical Quarterly

From the Publisher
"A brilliant, compelling, and completely convincing revision of the meaning of Garveyism as a whole."
Church History

"Makes valuable contributions to our understanding of the Garvey movement and black Southern life, bringing gender analysis to bear on these topics in new and productive ways."
Journal of American Studies

"Technically solid, with clear writing and organization, and would be ideal for classroom use with undergraduates. . . . Nicely balances more general social history with well-timed accounts from inside and outside the UNIA."
Historian

"Not only shines much needed light on an overlooked segment of Garveyites but also illuminates the interior lives of rural black Southerners. . . . A welcome addition to the scholarship of Garveyism."
Arkansas Historical Quarterly

This is an extremely important piece of scholarship.

Steven Hahn, University of Pennsylvania, and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Nation Under our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration

[A] richly detailed and compelling portrait .

Winston James, University of California, Irvine, and author of Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia: Caribbean Radicalism in Early Twentieth-Century America

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Mary G. Rolinson is lecturer of history at Georgia State University.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Rediscovering Southern Garveyism
1 Antecedents
2 Lessons
3 Growth
4 Members
5 Appeal
6 Transition
Epilogue: Legacy
Appendix A. UNIA Divisions in the Eleven States of the Former Confederacy
Appendix B. Numbers of Southern Members of UNIA Divisions by State
Appendix C. Numbers of Sympathizers Involved in Mass Meetings and Petitions for Garvey's Release from Jail and Prison, 1923-1927
Appendix D. Phases of Organization of UNIA Divisions in the South by State
Appendix E. Ministers as Southern UNIA Officers, 1926-1928
Appendix F. Profiles of UNIA Members in Georgia, Arkansas, and Mississippi, 1922-1928, and NAACP Branch Leaders in Georgia, 1917-1920
Appendix G. Women Organizers in the UNIA in the South, 1922-1928
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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