Marcus Garvey’s 1921 “If you believe the Negro has a soul” speech

After World War I ended, many Black Americans expected to return home to celebrations of their contributions in the war fought to preserve democracy and human rights in Europe. Instead, racism was alive and well. This is evidenced by the rebirth of Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, and discriminatory practices in the segregated south.

The Universal Negro Improvement Association was headed by the charismatic Marcus Garvey. He believed that the best course of action would be for Blacks to leave the United States and have a self-sufficient nation in Africa. He did not believe that racial equality and harmony would be possible in the U.S. and Europe in the 1920s.

We have included his 1921 speech with questions and answers.

For more on this era check out our 1920s PowerPoint.

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