Bob has a review in the SF Chronicle about a new biography of Marcus Garvey, and sent a link. Opinion on Garvey tends to gravitate to one of two extremes, and in both of these extremes there is significant emotional and political investment. There is the body of opinion that treats Garvey as a saint; Rastafarianism, for example, holds him in a very exalted place, and Garvey’s “Back to Africa” ideas and black identity ideas are at the very foundation of Rastafarian cultural identity, though to say only so much is, I must confess, a simplification. At the other extreme are those who take some delight in thinking of him as another “race hustler” who betrayed his people by actually getting into friendly discussions with the KKK.
Anyway the nice thing about this piece is that it does justice to Garvey. His life was really remarkable, and to understand what it was to be black and a West Indian in his time you have to learn about him, and then you can see his achievement for what it was -- even more remarkable than his life, and a lesson in how ideas move through the world in unpredictable ways. Bob’s review is a good place to start.
To understand what Garvey's life has meant to Jamaicans, consider that he is one of the country's national heroes; his face is on the currency.