Why did so many black leaders reject Marcus Garvey?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that there can be a handful of reasons why Garvey was rejected by Black leaders.  One immediate reason was the Garvey's position was the polar opposite of leading Black leaders at the time.  Garvey made it clear that there can be no reconciliation, no sense of collaboration, between Blacks and Whites.  There really was no middle ground in Garvey's thinking.  In his thinking, it was clear that racism had tainted the relationship between both races and that Black needed to spiritually, if not physically, leave America.  For many Black leaders that were trying to establish some semblance of an equal relationship between Blacks and Whites, Garvey's position really challenged any and all such articulations.  Consider that the schism between Washington and DuBois was healed through their believers' mutual disdain for Garvey's position.  At the same time, I think that Garvey saw the authenticity and certainty in his own position and did not see any potential room for compromise.  This made Garvey on the outside of other established leaders in the Black community.  Given how Garvey embraced the role of "messiah" and how there were financial questions raised about his organization with the Black Star Line debacle, these antagonisms between he and other Black leaders magnified.

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