Amy Ashwood Garvey: A Trailblazing Pan-Africanist and Advocate for Black Empowerment in the Windrush Generation

On 10 January 1897, Amy Ashwood Garvey was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, and her personal journey as a prominent Pan-Africanist and a leading figure in the Windrush Generation began. From an early age, she possessed a strong drive for social justice and equality, which eventually led her to play a crucial role in advocating for black self-determination, racial pride, and the unification of African people worldwide.

Her life took a significant turn when she met Marcus Garvey in 1914. Sharing a passion for racial equality, the pair co-founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) that same year. As a dedicated advocate, Amy Ashwood tirelessly worked for the cause, even after her marriage to Marcus Garvey in 1919, which ended in divorce three years later.

When Amy Ashwood moved to London in the 1920s, her unwavering commitment to the Pan-Africanist movement gained her respect and admiration among her peers. She co-founded the International African Friends of Abyssinia (IAFA) in 1934, alongside fellow activists C.L.R. James, George Padmore, and Jomo Kenyatta. The IAFA’s mission to protect Ethiopia’s sovereignty during the Italian invasion demonstrated Amy’s deep concern for her fellow Africans and her belief in self-determination.

Recognising the need to empower black women, Amy Ashwood Garvey established the Afro-Women’s Centre in London. This social and cultural hub provided support, education, and recreational opportunities for women of African descent, while also promoting Pan-Africanism.

In 1944, Amy Ashwood Garvey returned to her homeland, Jamaica, and continued fighting for workers’ rights, women’s rights, and independence from British colonial rule. Her love for the arts found expression in organizing the first Jamaican National Arts Festival in 1945 and hosting a radio show called “The Feminine Point of View.

Amy Ashwood Garvey’s life was marked by extensive travels and participation in numerous Pan-African congresses and conferences. Her unwavering commitment to racial pride and black self-determination left a lasting impact on the Windrush Generation and the history of black activism and civil rights.

On 3 May 1969, Amy Ashwood Garvey passed away in Kingston, Jamaica, leaving behind a powerful legacy. Her personal story, from her birth to her final days, of perseverance and dedication to the rights of black people continues to inspire future generations to champion the cause of equality and justice.