The Black Man’s Government: Marcus Garvey’s People’s Political Party

Wow, Garvey was about minimum wage, resonable working hours and free universal health care way back then…in Jamaica!  Makes you wonder…these ideas are not new at all, once again I am reminded of that, my people, once again. – Aug 17, 2007

“What was Jamaica’s first political party the Jamaica Labour Party or the People’s National Party?   Actually, the answer is Marcus Garvey’s People’s Political Party (PPP), launched in 1929 at a mass meeting in Cross Roads.

Garveyite and current President of the PPP, Miguel Lorne, explained a little about the social background against which Garvey launched the PPP, as described in the writings of Garvey’s second wife Amy Jacques Garvey.  

“She pointed out that because of the injustices he and others like him were perennially suffering that he realized that black people had to have political control in order therefore to have full control of the administration of power,” said Mr. Lorne.

The People’s Political Party was hugely popular with poor black Jamaicans.

But Mr. Lorne explains that the laws at the time hindered the party’s development.  

“Although he was the most popular black man in Jamaica and in the western hemisphere, he could not win a seat simply because we did not have Universal Adult Sufferage at that time,”

“Only those with property, a certain amount of property, a certain amount of money had the right to vote and naturally they voted for their own kith and kin,”

As a result, the PPP had difficulty in gaining widespread support among voters.

Garvey did represent the Allman Town division in the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation, where he agitated for PPP reforms, but he was not elected to the Legislative Council.

The PPP manifesto advocated significant social proposals such as a minimum wage and eight hour days for workers.

Mr. Lorne points out that Garvey’s other proposals still resonate today.

 “Strange enough he was talking about free education for secondary schools, he asking for a secondary school to be in each capital at that time and that you have free education. When you watch the manifestos of both parties, they are now battling over that same idea of free education,”

“He was also talking about free health care and setting up health clinics in certain places which could provide free health care service to poor people at the time. Again in 2007 that has become the main political football that is being kicked by either side,”

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Filed under black, culture, history, media, politics

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