books_web.jpgMarcus Mosiah Garvey Jr., an early Pan-Africanist and proponent of a “Back to Africa” movement, was arguably one of the most influential people of Caribbean descent in the 20th century.

Garvey’s philosophy was summed up by his powerful “Africa for Africans!” mantra. 

To honor Garvey’s contributions to the African Diaspora, the Broward County Library System is presenting the 2008 Pan-African Bookfest & Marcus Garvey Rootz Celebration, August 16 and 17.

The event, in its sixth year, will be held at two locations: Joseph C. Carter Park in Fort Lauderdale, and the Shoppes of St. Croix in Lauderdale Lakes.

“We are combining the bookfest with our annual Marcus Garvey celebration,” said Tanya Simons-Oparah, the Broward Main Library’s outreach services director.

“I thought it appropriate because Garvey was one of the first Pan-Africanists, and he had a tremendous impact on economic development and a development of pride for blacks in this country,’’ she said. “Bookfests and Marcus Garvey are simply two good matches.”

In previous years, the bookfest was held at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, and next door to the library at Samuel Delevoe Park.

But budget cuts this year forced the library system to scale back some projects, and a combined bookfest and Garvey event made economic sense to library officials. 

The bookfest is sponsored in part by an award from the Broward Public Library Foundation, the city of Fort Lauderdale, and the Rootz Foundation.

Garvey was born the last of 11 children on Aug. 17, 1887 in Saint Anne’s Bay, Jamaica. His father, Marcus Mosiah Garvey Sr., was a stone mason.  His mother,  Sarah Jane Richards, was a domestic worker.

Garvey left school at age 14 to begin work as an apprentice printer in Kingston at a company where he would later lead a strike for higher wages.

From his father’s large library, Garvey gained a love of reading.  Known to carry a dictionary with him, Garvey strived to learn five new words every day.

Garvey’s political ideas were set before he left Jamaica for South and Central America in 1910.  From early visits to banana plantations in Costa Rica and Panama, he soon realized the desperate oppression suffered by blacks in America.

Garvey became convinced that the only way to improve the condition of blacks was to unite them.   In 11 years, after arriving penniless in the United States in 1916, Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which published The
Negro World weekly newspaper, and launched the Black Star Line, an international shipping company developed as UNIA’s vehicle for promoting commerce among black communities worldwide.

During the bookfest, historical re-enactments of UNIA’s movements, stories, pictorials, and movies will be shown in the Carter Park gymnasium. 

“Everything will be as close to what we know it is, based on research, records and his speeches,” Simons-Oparah said. “We are bringing live history to people, and have a person to act as Garvey on that day.”

A member of UNIA from New York will also speak at the event, Simons-Oparah added.

Included in the program at Carter Park will be a mini health fair, book authors, spoken word, music, book vendors, and panel discussions about books and book publishing.

“Everyone will be able to see and participate,” Simons-Oparah said. “We want them to be engaged as well as informed about what’s happening in the industry.  But mostly, it will be a large local celebration of the local authors.”

Kinad Mobile Museum, an African-American history mobile museum that provides on-site field experiences, will be featured on Aug. 17 from 2 to 4 p.m.,  Simons-Oparah added.

This year, the two-day bookfest has expanded into two venues, according to Kesha Davis, president of the Booklovers Lounge and coordinator of the Aug. 16 authors and events.

The Aug. 16 events, which include signings by authors of mixed genres, hourly book discussions, and children’s activities, will be held at the Shoppes of St. Croix in Lauderdale Lakes.

“Our goal is to promote literacy and economic empowerment,” Davis explained. “The Shoppes of St. Croix represents both ideals.”
Simons-Oparah is working to confirm the attendance of nationally known authors. 

For authors submitting their books for consideration in the bookfest, the deadline has been extended to July 15.


WHAT: Pan African Bookfest & Marcus Garvey Rootz Extravaganza
WHERE: Shoppes of St. Croix, 4091 NW 34th St., Lauderdale Lakes.
WHEN:  Saturday, Aug. 16, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
COST:  Free and open to the public.
CONTACT: For more information, contact Kesha Davis at 954-714-1100.

WHERE:  Joseph C. Carter Park, 1450 W. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.
WHEN:  Sunday, Aug. 17, noon to 8 p.m.
COST:  Free and open to the public.
CONTACT:  For more information on the event or book submissions, call 954-828-5411 or 954-357-7348.