by Jamaal Abdul-Alim
WASHINGTON — The longstanding effort to clear the name of Marcus Garvey — the pioneering Pan-Africanist credited with starting the largest black nationalist movement in history — got a jolt of new energy Wednesday as the iconic Black leader’s son, a law professor and a contingent of civil rights personages called on President Barack Obama to grant Garvey a posthumous pardon.
“Why is this the right time to exonerate Marcus Garvey? The reality is there’s never been a better time to do so,” said Justin Hansford, St. Louis University law professor and Harvard University Democracy Project fellow, tying the efforts of Garvey — who launched the Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1914 in Jamaica and later established a New York City branch in 1916 — to today’s Black Lives Matter movement.
“I believe we’re at a turning point in our racial justice history — a time when we’re trying to affirm, perhaps for the first time, that, yes, Black lives do matter in this country,” Hansford said. “And this (pardon effort) is part of this process.”
Hansford made his remarks Wednesday at the National Press Club at an event meant to call attention to the posthumous pardon request that lawyers advising the Garvey family submitted to the Department of Justice and White House this past June.
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