Amy Euphemia Jacques Garvey was born in Kingston, Jamaica on December 31st, 1895 to parents George Samuel Jacques and Charlotte Henrietta Jacques. She was raised in a middle class Jamaican family which gave her access to opportunities and resources other youth did not have access to. Charlotte Jacques was of mixed race, her mother was a black woman and her father was a white English farmer. The status of Amy’s parents helped to provide her with an education from the finest schools in Jamaica; her father would also help to develop her as an intellectual, engaging with her in regular discussions about politics and other worldly affairs. Amy was also taught to play the piano while studying music appreciation, and was known to be more interested in learning than anything else. During her high school years she would attend St. Patrick’s School, Deaconess High School and Wolmer Girl School in Jamaica. Shortly after graduating high school she would work as a legal secretary for the family of TR McMillan before moving to Harlem, New York in 1917.
Amy decided to attend a community meeting one day and at this meeting she would first encounter the Honorable Marcus Garvey. Impressed by his passion, charisma and knowledge she asked him how she can help in his movement. The next day Amy Jacques became a business assistant for Marcus Garvey, she helped him manage the numerous businesses he owned or operated. A few of the titles she held were secretary to the Negro Factories Corporation, office manager of the U.N.I.A, personal secretary to Marcus Garvey, editor of the Negro World Newspaper, and the Secretary General of the U.N.I.A. As editor of the Negro World Newspaper she was able to use her voice to empower black women, while the newspaper became the largest black owned and circulated newspaper in the country. Amy became well known as a great fundraiser and speaker for the Marcus Garvey and the U.N.I.A. In 1922 after Marcus Garvey divorced his first wife Amy Ashwood, he and Amy Jacques were married, a union that made the U.N.I.A. and Marcus Garvey a much stronger force. The couple would have two son’s Marcus Garvey Jr. and Dr. Julius Garvey. In 1920, Amy became the first woman of the Interim-Provisional Government of Africa of the U.N.I.A. and African Communities League; she believed that black people should be exposed to messages of self-empowerment, self-reliance and nation building. From 1923 through 1940 Amy would edit and publish all three volumes of The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey. Later, Marcus Garvey was unjustly imprisoned on mail fraud charges; Amy was responsible for not only rising their boys but raising funds for Garvey’s legal defense.
After Marcus Garvey was released from prison he was deported back to Jamaica along with his wife and children, Amy continued her role in the U.N.I.A. as well as the editor of The Negro World. Marcus Garvey died in 1940, but Amy and her son’s would continue to uphold the Garvey name and legacy. In 1944, Amy Garvey was one of the people responsible for the U.N. adopting an Africa Freedom Charter using her writings titled “A Memorandum Correlative of Africa, West Indies and the Americas.” In 1963 she published her book Garvey and Garveyism, and later published two essay collections titled Black Power in America and The Impact of Garvey in Africa and Jamaica. She continued to use her voice and her pen to promote the ideas of black self-reliance, nation building and black empowerment until her death in 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica. Many people around the world know who Marcus Garvey is, but may not understand the important role his wife Amy Garvey played in helping to build the U.N.I.A, as well as spreading his messages. One thing I have learned to be true, behind great men, you will usually find great women, who the great man is working to keep up with. She is a true unsung hero of African history, American history and world history. Miss. Amy Euphemia Jacques Garvey, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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