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The American Experience - Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind

Story

The story of Marcus Garvey, a controversial African American leader of the early 20th century, is thoughtfully told in this documentary, an installment in the American Experience series on PBS. Garvey, who was born in Jamaica, learned the printer's trade as a teenager, and his ability to express himself in print helped him become an advocate for black rights in his homeland. He formed the Universal Negro Improvement Association, but a financial scandal forced him to flee to New York. Before long he organized the UNIA in America, and his organization began an amazing chapter in American race relations. Garvey, after choosing the unlikely role model of evangelist Billy Sunday, became a great orator and enlisted many thousands of African Americans in his movement. Elderly people recall attending Garvey's rallies and parades with their parents 80 years ago, providing touching and fascinating insights. Newsreel footage shows Garvey, who took to wearing grandiose costumes in public, as well as the fervent crowds who flocked to him. Before long the federal government was seeking to destroy Garvey, and an obscure young Justice Department attorney named J. Edgar Hoover was writing reports denouncing him as a "notorious Negro agitator." A mail fraud charge led to Garvey's imprisonment and eventual exile in England. This intelligent film shows how Garvey, though always a controversial figure, was an important precursor to the American civil rights movement. --Robert J. McNamara

Cast

American Experience
Marcus Garvey

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