Broward Commission Rejects Motion Supporting Marcus Garvey’s Exoneration

Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey (2nd from left)

In February this year, Jamaican-American Congresswoman, Yvette Clarke introduced a resolution calling for the US government to pardon Jamaica’s first national hero, Marcus Garvey.

The political activist was convicted for mail fraud in the US in 1923, but many of his supporters believe he was never guilty and was subject to an unfair trial.

With the large Caribbean community in Broward recently celebrating Garvey’s birthday on August 17, scores of Caribbean-American leaders like Lauderdale Lakes Mayor Hazelle Rogers and Lauderhill Vice Mayor Denise Grant have been rallying support for the resolution.

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This was pointed out by Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness as he attempted to get the other country commissioners to support the move.

“The call for the exoneration of Marcus Garvey is something that’s actively ongoing across the country. The City of Miramar, the City of Lauderdale Lakes, the city of Lauderhill recently passed a similar resolution. It’s in response to a call from the community, specifically Mayor Hazelle Rogers and Vice Mayor Denise Grant that we put something forward. There’s a cry across, not just the Jamaican community, but the African-American community for this to be done,” Holness explained during a Commission meeting on August 24.

The motion was a hard sell for the Broward Commission, most of whom said they could not support the exoneration of Garvey. Broward Vice Mayor Michael Udine said the county has more important matters to focus on.

Broward County Mayor Steve Geller also pushed back at the motion, saying Garvey was a controversial leader and highly prejudice against other races.

“If I had brought up a motion to support someone that was supported by the Klu Klux Klan, as was Mr. Garvey, or someone who was opposed to integration and believed mixed people was an abomination, I think I would be called a racist,” Geller said.

He also referred to Garvey as a “megalomaniac who declared himself President of Africa”.

“I am not prepared to support this. We are being told that he should be exonerated, but I have seen zero evidence that he didn’t do what he was convicted of, which was securities fraud,” Geller added.

At the end of the meeting, most of the County Commissioners voted not to support the motion.  Holness and Commissioner Barbara Sharief were the only Commissioners who supported the exoneration.

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