Marcus Garvey Popular Theatre Project Coming from Caribbean to Hartford

Trinity's Center for Caribbean Studies Presents Garveys' 'State Visit' December 2 at 10 Constitution Plaza

Actors Michael Cherrie and Penelope Spencer as Marcus and
Amy Garvey (2016 photo by Abigail Hadeed)
Hartford, Connecticut, November 15, 2017 –

WHAT: The Marcus Garvey Popular Theatre Project is coming from the Caribbean to Hartford—home to one of the largest West Indian and Caribbean populations in the United States—to perform a State Visit to Hartford by Marcus and Amy Garvey. The theatrical and educational project is designed to help people explore and reflect on the history and legacy of Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey (1887–1940), who initiated a movement dedicated to black racial pride and economic self-sufficiency known as Pan Africanism and was the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL).

Trinity College’s Center for Caribbean Studies (CCS) is bringing the project to Hartford for the first in a series of CCS-sponsored events at Trinity’s new downtown Constitution Plaza location. A ceremonial welcome will take place on the steps of 10 Constitution Plaza with City of Hartford officials and Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney on hand to greet the Garveys. Portraying Marcus Garvey and his wife will be actors Michael Cherrie and Penelope Spencer. In addition to the theatrical performance, Dermoth Brown, longtime Hartford-area resident and founder of the International Foundation for the Exoneration of Marcus Mosiah Garvey CT, will speak about his motivation to start that organization. A festive meal and discussion will follow, inside the building.

WHEN: Saturday, December 2, 2017, noon

WHERE: Trinity College Downtown Campus, 10 Constitution Plaza, Hartford
                         (Enter at State Street between Market Street and Columbus Boulevard)        

Background:

The discussion leader at the December 2 luncheon will be Tony Hall, the renowned Trinidadian playwright and lecturer in the Trinity in Trinidad study away program. The Marcus Garvey Popular Theatre Project was conceived by Hall when he visited Costa Rica with the current co-directors of Trinity College’s Center for Caribbean Studies, Professor of Fine Arts Pablo Delano and Professor of History and International Studies Dario Euraque, along with a group of Trinity in Trinidad students in fall 2014. The Trinity field experience in Costa Rica focuses primarily on the Afro-Costa Rican community in the province of Limón. Afro-Caribbean labor, largely from Jamaica, was imported into Costa Rica to build a railroad in the 19th century and to work on U.S.-owned banana plantations. Today, Costa Rica’s African Diaspora is grounded in the original Jamaican populations visited by Marcus Garvey in the 1910s.

Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey is an iconic figure in diasporic African communities. According to Euraque, “The Garvey movement was extremely important in the Caribbean and in the U.S.” The young Garvey worked in Costa Rica, as a checker with the United Fruit Company and as a journalist. This experience had a profound influence on his later founding, in July 1914, of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the Black Star Line shipping company, with his first wife and fellow Pan-Africanist, Amy Ashwood Garvey. These initiatives constituted a complex program both of education and potential relocation of black people “back to Africa” that spread to most of the Caribbean and as far north as New York and even Canada.

According to Hall, “Though it seems that the Garveys (including his second wife, Amy Jacques Garvey, who also was an activist and an editor of the UNIA newspaper Negro World) have of late been relegated to a footnote in diasporic African history, we still have here a significant Pan-Caribbean story. It is a story that offers opportunities not only to restore these important figures to their rightful place in history but also to help to tie Caribbean countries together, further the links between Trinity College and the Caribbean-oriented population of Hartford, and offer the Trinity campuses in Hartford and the Caribbean an opportunity to engage faculty and students in a process that is at once scholarly and artistic.”

View a four-minute biography video about Marcus Garvey, produced by Biography.com, here.

Related Exhibit at Trinity’s Main Campus, November 15–December 15, 2017:
A parallel exhibit about the history of West Indians in Hartford is featured at Trinity College’s Mather Art Gallery, 300 Summit Street, from November 15 through December 15. Titled A Home Away From Home, the exhibition is curated and written by Fiona Vernal, associate professor of history and Africana studies at the University of Connecticut and a member of the Advisory Board of Trinity’s Center for Caribbean Studies.