This article analyses the dynamic history of Garveyism in Chicago, Illinois (USA). The Jamaican black nationalist Marcus Garvey's message of racial pride, African redemption, and black self-determination electrified black Chicagoans. Thousands of blacks in this Midwestern industrial city joined Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). At its peak in the early 1920s, the UNIA claimed six million members worldwide. Chicago was highly regarded in the transnational UNIA. Black women played a critical role in building this Pan-African movement in the Windy City. The Chicago UNIA spawned black nationalist political and religious movements in this city from the 1920s onward. Tracing the largely unknown story provides insight into the broader history of what I call the diasporic Midwest. I use the term as a theoretical and analytical framework to extend the geographical scope of the African Diaspora, to internationalize African-American history, to consider the gendered contours and paradoxes of Pan-Africanism and black nationalism, and to chart a genealogy of Black Power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-145
Number of pages17
JournalAfrican and Black Diaspora
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015


  • Chicago
  • UNIA
  • diasporic midwest
  • garveyism
  • marcus garvey
  • masculinism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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