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P.O. Box 42379
Philadelphia, PA 19101
(215) 748-4632
spady@garveyfoundation.com

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Marcus Garvey Memorial Foundation's Educational Initiatives

Education has been foremost on the agenda of the Marcus Garvey Memorial Foundation since its beginning in 1960. During the early years individual members gave generously of their capital and human resources to aid students from Africa in getting a higher education in the United States. Members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League played crucial roles aiding Africans in getting visas, paying tuition, application fees and often providing housing gratis (this normally included daily home cooked meals.) Once the Foundation came into existence, referrals and inquiries began coming in to assist Africans in their efforts in attaining education. This was the pattern for the first two decades (1960's and 1970's) of the Marcus Garvey Memorial Foundation's existence.

Garvey Curriculum Module Developed

Photo of Youth ParadeThe decades of the 1980's and 1990's saw changes in the composition of the board and the establishment of an Educational Research and Publications Committee. It also was a time for expanded public programs. The centenary of the birth of Marcus Garvey in 1987 was marked by a number of important activities that were aided by foundation members. These members indeed helped plan and implement a full week of activities in Jamaica, culminating with an unprecedented cultural program where the leading Reggae, Dancehall and Dub Poets actually performed at the International Convention of the UNIA and ACL.

During the centenary year the Foundation was also active in the United States. It developed a curriculum module on Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association for Philadelphia public school students. Since there was no precedent for this undertaking, many, many hours were spent. A three member committee, chaired by James G. Spady, developed the Marcus Garvey/ UNIA Curriculum Module in order to enhance the educational opportunities of all students in the Philadelphia Public School System. Other committee members included: Leandre Jackson and Louis Jones. The module was designed for 4th-12th graders. Such a module required the approval of key school officials: the Superintendent of the Philadelphia School District, School Operations Director, Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instructional Development, District Superintendents, Supervisors, Principals, and Teachers. Extensive discussions were held with the following Department heads: English/Language Arts, Social Studies, and Afro American Studies. A solid rationale had to meet the approval of curriculum specialists prior to presenting the module to classroom teachers.

At the time the MGMF introduced its curriculum module in Philadelphia the school administration was implementing its standardized curriculum, applicable to each school in the system. The usual bureaucracy associated with large organizational units was clearly evident in the School District's operation. It was felt that the introduction of the Garvey/UNIA curriculum module was a significant achievement. In order to general interest in this new African American studies module, the Foundation developed guidelines for a city wide essay competition in conjunction with the Office of African American Studies, School District of Philadelphia.

Months of meeting with department heads and other schools officials yielded approval of the Marcus Garvey/ UNIA Curriculum Module. To nearly everyone's surprise, including the curriculum specialists and associate departmental directors, the teachers responded overwhelmingly. Seventy five teachers, representing schools throughout the district, attended a faculty/staff/ Garvey Foundation meeting and signed up to begin teaching the Garvey module and encouraging their students to participate in the city wide essay competition. The initial group of teachers were African Americans, Euro Americans, Asians and Latinos.

Nine cash prizes were established by the Foundation for the best essays in this city wide competition. Recipients were awarded the prizes on the stage of the Academy of Music. On hand to present the awards to student winners was Marcus Garvey, Jr., son of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association.

Participates in International Conference on Garvey at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica

The unprecedented accomplishments of the Marcus Garvey Memorial Foundation prompted the organizers of International Conference on Marcus Garvey to invite James G. Spady of the MGMF to deliver a paper on the Marcus Garvey Curriculum Module. The response to the paper on introducing Garvey and the UNIA into the Philadelphia Public School System was remarkable. Many of the scholars in attendance learned about the Marcus Garvey Memorial Foundation for the first time. Useful conversations were held with educational officers, teachers and others interested in scholarship on Garvey. This was most significant because the Foundation entered into meaningful dialogues with Garvey scholars from around the world who were assembled at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus in Jamaica.

The University of the West Indies-sponsored conference on Garvey attracted scholars from Africa, the Caribbean, the USA and elsewhere. Upon learning of the success the Marcus Garvey Memorial Foundation had in introducing the "Garvey /UNIA Curriculum Module" into the School District of Philadelphia, the conference convener stated, "this is an area that we would like to emphasize."

Foundation Forum at the Greenfield Intercultural Center on Garvey and the Latin American Connection

As a part of its ongoing educational initiative, the Marcus Garvey Memorial Foundation was asked to participate in The Greenfield Intercultural Center Distinguished Lecture Series. This lecture /exhibition, "Marcus Garvey: The Latin American/Caribbean Connection" took place on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

Public Libraries and The Mass Education Program of the Foundation

Just as the Foundation's academic colloques were held at universities to attract students and scholars, there are mass education public programs to reach the broader community. Neighborhood branches of the Philadelphia public library system have been most cooperative in working with the Foundation in planning exhibitions and public forums. What we have found is that these activities create considerable interest in the library's holdings on Marcus Garvey, the Universal Negro Improvement Association, Pan Africanism, and African American Studies. One of the more popular themes that attracted large audiences and stimulated school trips was " Marcus Garvey and The UNIA: The Philadelphia Experience. " The first two in this series took place at the West Philadelphia Regional Library and the Northwest Regional in Germantown. Many in attendance told stories about their own family's connection to the U.N.I.A.