Thomas W. Harvey

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Thomas Watson Harvey (November 27, 1893 – June 27, 1978) was President-General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA) from 1956 to 1978.

The Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) is a black nationalist fraternal organization founded in 1914 in the United States by Marcus Mosiah Garvey, a Jamaican immigrant. The Pan-African organization enjoyed its greatest strength in the 1920s, and was influential in the United States prior to Garvey's deportation to Jamaica in 1927. After that its prestige and influence declined, but it had a strong influence on African-American history and development. The UNIA was said to be "unquestionably, the most influential anticolonial organization in Jamaica prior to 1938."



Harvey was born in Douglas, Burke County, Georgia, the oldest of twelve children of Walker and Billie Harvey. His father was a farmer and both his grandparents were slaves. He was named after Thomas E. Watson, the leader of the Populist Party in Georgia who at the time was a champion of Georgia's dispossessed, both black and white.

Burke County, Georgia County in the United States

Burke County is a county located along the eastern border of the U.S. state of Georgia in the Piedmont. As of the 2010 census, the population was 23,316. The county seat is Waynesboro.

Thomas E. Watson American politician, attorney, newspaper editor and writer

Thomas Edward "Tom" Watson was an American politician, attorney, newspaper editor and writer from Georgia. In the 1890s Watson championed poor farmers as a leader of the Populist Party, articulating an agrarian political viewpoint while attacking business, bankers, railroads, Democratic President Grover Cleveland, and the Democratic Party. He was the nominee for vice president with Democrat William Jennings Bryan in 1896 on the Populist ticket.

Georgia (U.S. state) State of the United States of America

Georgia is a state in the Southeastern United States. It began as a British colony in 1733, the last and southernmost of the original Thirteen Colonies to be established. Named after King George II of Great Britain, the Province of Georgia covered the area from South Carolina south to Spanish Florida and west to French Louisiana at the Mississippi River. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788. In 1802–1804, western Georgia was split to the Mississippi Territory, which later split to form Alabama with part of former West Florida in 1819. Georgia declared its secession from the Union on January 19, 1861, and was one of the original seven Confederate states. It was the last state to be restored to the Union, on July 15, 1870. Georgia is the 24th largest and the 8th most populous of the 50 United States. From 2007 to 2008, 14 of Georgia's counties ranked among the nation's 100 fastest-growing, second only to Texas. Georgia is known as the Peach State and the Empire State of the South. Atlanta, the state's capital and most populous city, has been named a global city. Atlanta's metropolitan area contains about 55% of the population of the entire state.

Harvey left Douglas as a young man seeking employment. His travels led him to Waynesboro, Augusta, Atlanta and other towns in the rural area. He became increasingly agitated as he became aware of his plight of black Americans, and he travelled north in search of a better life. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1917 at the age of 22. In 1919 he was discharged from the U.S. Army. Soon afterwards he became involved with the UNIA and its founder, Marcus Garvey, and became one of the thirteen students taught by Garvey in the School of African philosophy.

Waynesboro, Georgia City in Georgia, United States

Waynesboro is a city in Burke County, Georgia, United States. The population was 5,766 at the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Burke County. It is part of the Augusta, Georgia metropolitan area.

Augusta, Georgia Consolidated city-county in Georgia, United States

Augusta, officially Augusta–Richmond County, is a consolidated city-county on the central eastern border of the U.S. state of Georgia. The city lies across the Savannah River from South Carolina at the head of its navigable portion. Georgia's second-largest city after Atlanta, Augusta is located in the Piedmont section of the state.

Atlanta Capital of Georgia, United States

Atlanta is the capital of, and the most populous city in, the U.S. state of Georgia. With an estimated 2017 population of 486,290, it is also the 38th most-populous city in the United States. The city serves as the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, home to 5.8 million people and the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the nation. Atlanta is the seat of Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia. A small portion of the city extends eastward into neighboring DeKalb County.

He joined the Association in 1919 and became very active, rising from ordinary membership to the successive positions of lieutenant of the African Legions, commissioner of the State of New York, Commissioner of the State of Ohio, High Chancellor of the Parent Body (when the Parent Body was located in London, England), Confidante of Mr. Garvey, and division president. In 1938 he distanced himself from Senator Theodore Bilbo, following the latter's use of racist invective in promoting the repatriation of African Americans under the age of 40 as an amendment to the House Joint Resolution 679. [1]

New York (state) State of the United States of America

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original Thirteen Colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. To distinguish the state from the city in the state with the same name, it is sometimes called New York State.

Ohio State of the United States of America

Ohio is a Midwestern state in the Great Lakes region of the United States. Of the fifty states, it is the 34th largest by area, the seventh most populous, and the tenth most densely populated. The state's capital and largest city is Columbus.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Finally, Harvey was elected President-General of the UNIA Rehabilitating Committee in Detroit in 1951. Shortly afterwards he established the Garvey's Voice newspaper. He was elected again to the post again in 1960, and was re-elected every four years until his death; his many years of service often included minor tasks such as painting a room, sweeping or preparing meals for visitors. He was known as a peacemaker, and as a spokesman who believed staunchly in Garvey's philosophy and opinions.

Detroit Largest city in Michigan

Detroit is the largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Michigan, the largest United States city on the United States–Canada border, and the seat of Wayne County. The municipality of Detroit had a 2017 estimated population of 673,104, making it the 23rd-most populous city in the United States. The metropolitan area, known as Metro Detroit, is home to 4.3 million people, making it the second-largest in the Midwest after the Chicago metropolitan area. Regarded as a major cultural center, Detroit is known for its contributions to music and as a repository for art, architecture and design.

The rest of his association with the UNIA can be documented by members of the organization who knew him well. In his travels from Georgia to various cities, the Senate Chamber, university campuses, and offices of foreign and domestic government officials, he touched the lives of many people. He was renowned for his patience with and commitment to his fellow men.

United States Senate Upper house of the United States Congress

The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, which along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—comprises the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol, in Washington, D.C.

One of the highpoints of Harvey's career was the creation and founding of the African Project in 1966 under the leadership of the late Reverend Clarence Harding, Jr. The project was located in Monrovia, Liberia, and included a fully accredited school under the Garvey Memorial Foundation, headed by the minister of education.

Harvey died in 1978 at the home of his daughter, Jean Slappy of Philadelphia. He was 84 years old. His funeral took place at Antioch Second Baptist Church, and he was interred at Mount Lawn Cemetery, Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania.

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  1. Michael W. Fitzgerald, "'We Have Found a Moses': Theodore Bilbo, Black Nationalism, and the Greater Liberia Bill of 1939", Journal of Southern History , Vol. 63, No. 2 (May 1997), pp. 293-320. Published by: Southern Historical Association, p 301