Volume XII of the Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers covers a period of twelve months, from the opening of the UNIA’s historic first international convention in New York, in August 1920, to Marcus Garvey’s return to the United States in July 1921 after an extended tour of Cuba, Jamaica, Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize. In many ways the 1920 convention marked the high-point of the Garvey movement in the United States, while Garvey’s tour of the Caribbean, in the winter and spring of 1921, registered the greatest outpouring of popular support for the UNIA in its history. The period covered in the present volume was the moment of the movement’s political apotheosis, as well as the moment when the finances of Garvey’s Black Star Line went into free fall.
Volume XII highlights the centrality of the Caribbean people not only to the convention, but also to the movement. The reports to the convention discussed the range of social and economic conditions obtaining in the Caribbean, particularly their impact on racial conditions. The quality of the discussions and debates were impressive. Contained in these reports are some of the earliest and most clearly enunciated statements in defense of social and political freedom in the Caribbean. These documents form an underappreciated and still underutilized record of the political awakening of Caribbean people of African descent.