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Push to Pardon Marcus Garvey Gains Momentum

A growing list of prominent names and organizations are backing a campaign for President Barack Obama to grant a posthumous pardon to civil rights leader Marcus Garvey.

The Justice4Garvey campaign seeks to clear the “Back to Africa” trailblazer’s record, which is tarnished with what his son, Dr. Julius Garvey, says are bogus charges that still stick today.

“The Garvey movement had over 6 million followers worldwide,” said Dr. Julius Garvey in a statement. “Today, Marcus Garvey’s life and legacy is on exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, he is Jamaica’s First National Hero, and is honored across the globe, but we need President Obama to grant a posthumous pardon to clear his name and reverse this injustice.”

Since launching in August, Justice4Garvey has gained the support of world leaders, U.S. politicians, established institutions and award-winning entertainers such as the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, Civil Rights Attorney Benjamin Crump and Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Garvey was targeted by a young Justice Department official named J. Edgar Hoover, and prosecuted for leading the largest civil rights organization of the era.

And almost 100 years later, the fight to clear his name is still on.

“Part of the suppression of the freedom movement of Africans in America was J. Edgar Hoover,” the younger Garvey, 83, said during an exclusive interview with EBONY.com. “[He targeted] my father because he led the largest civil rights organization of the period.”

In 1923, they eventually charged him with mail fraud in connection with stock sales of the Black Star Line—a shipping line incorporated by Garvey—after the U.S. Post Office and the Attorney General joined the investigation.

As a result, Garvey was convicted on trumped up charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

For almost three decades, Garvey has called for the exoneration of his father.

“In 1987, we worked with Congressman John Conyers on this effort, and again in 2004, with Congressman Charles Rangel in hopes that Congress would pass Congressional Resolutions to exonerate my father,” Garvey said. “We were unsuccessful back then, so now we have placed a petition on President Obama’s desk requesting a Posthumous Presidential Pardon.”

And as President Obama’s term comes to a close, time is of the essence.

“We are hopeful that the President will respond affirmatively,” Garvey said.

Photo: Dr. Julius Garvey, Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture