Miami Dade College Professor Campaigning To Exonerate Black Activist
Geoffrey Philp has been working incessantly to gather signatures for an online campaign to exonerate deceased 19th century black activist Marcus Garvey.
Garvey, a Jamaican-born black nationalist who created a “Back to Africa” movement in the United States, became an inspirational figure for civil rights activists when he was arrested for mail fraud in connection with the sale of stock in the Black Star Line in 1922.
He was sent to prison and was later deported to Jamaica. In 1935, he moved permanently to London where he died on June 10, 1940. In 1964, his body was returned to Jamaica where he was declared the country's first national hero.
"As a member of the Coalition for the ‘Exoneration of Marcus Garvey’, I am petitioning President Barack Obama for the exoneration of Marcus Garvey,” said Philp, who is also the chairperson of the College Prep program at North Campus, but who stressed that his work is being done as a private citizen and should not not reflect as the views of MDC. “I believe that the tenure of President Barack Obama presents a unique opportunity for this historically redemptive act.”
Philp said he started the petition out of love and respect for Garvey after teaching about his life for 10 years. His efforts have gathered 9,500 signatures, almost reaching its goal of 10,000.
“When I discovered that Garvey was railroaded by the Justice Department, I felt something had to be done to clear the name of a man who was the victim of injustice and whose only crime was standing up for the human rights of Africans and New World Africans,” Philp said.
The online petition asks Congress to “correct this historic injustice and exonerate Marcus Garvey,” on the basis of Garvey being “unjustly convicted for crimes he did not commit.”
It urges Congress to reintroduce Rep. Charles Rangel’s 2007 H.Con.Res. 24. The bill didn’t make it out of committee the first time it was proposed. Philp’s petition would encourage for the bill to be checked again.
“Although Marcus Garvey does not need to be exonerated in our eyes,” Philp said, “the Coalition for the Exoneration of Marcus Garvey is using this strategy as part of a larger goal of the public restoration and rehabilitation of the good name and character of our hero, Marcus Garvey.”
Along with the petition, Philp is also involved with a proposal to rename a Miami Gardens street after the black activist.
“The street renaming was originally proposed by a Garvey scholar, Ras Don Rico Ricketts,” Philp’s said. “When I started the campaign, Ras Don Rico was an invaluable source, so I volunteered to help him with this noble project.”
The reasoning the Miami Gardens street was picked is because Miami Gardens is the largest Black city in Florida.
“Marcus Garvey stood first for black empowerment, so it was only natural to honor Marcus Garvey in a place that has tremendous potential not only for the black residents, but can also fulfill something that Marcus Garvey said about Jamaica—that the races can live together in peace and harmony,” Philp said.
For more information on the petition or to sign it online, visit:
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