by Harold G Bailey (Jamaica Observer) New York, USA — Joseph R Biden is the latest United States president to be petitioned to pardon Marcus Mosiah Garvey who is widely believed to have been convicted by US authorities on trumped-up charges.
The new attempt to get a posthumous presidential pardon for Jamaica’s first national hero is led by New York Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke who has taken up where her Jamaican-born mother and former congresswoman Una Clarke left off.
She is supported by 21 of her congressional colleagues who contend in a letter that evidence at their disposal “points to an abundantly clear narrative that the case brought against Marcus Mosiah Garvey was not only fraudulent, but was marred by prosecutorial and government misconduct “.
June 21 this year marks the centenary of Garvey’s controversial conviction on mail fraud charges in the US. Since then, there have been numerous efforts and calls to have the conviction expunged and to have Garvey exonerated. Congressional efforts to secure a pardon were first made in 1987 by then congressman John Conyers who spearheaded a Judiciary Committee hearing on the trial.
Clarke and her congressional colleagues told Biden that Garvey’s influence and contributions are interwoven into the fabric of American history, adding that a presidential pardon and eventual exoneration for Garvey “would reaffirm our commitment to a criminal justice system that guarantees equity under the rule of law”.
“A presidential pardon for Mr Garvey – whose work influenced world leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela, inspired generations of leaders and sowed the seeds of the civil rights movement – would correct the historical record and shift the narrative at a time when African-American history faces the existential threat of erasure by radical state legislatures,” the group of black lawmakers asserted.
“The passage of time has confirmed his place in history, but has not removed the stain of injustice from his legacy,” they added.
Garvey is credited with inspiring nearly six million people across the world after he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association with a message of social progress through economic prosperity.