Dr. Tony Martin, the accomplished and tenured professor at Wellesley College and founding member and chair of the Africana studies department has passed away at 70. Dr. Martin was a disciple of the teachings and philosophies of Marcus Garvey, the political leader and staunch proponent of Pan-Africanism.
Pan Africanism is the ideology and movement that encourages solidarity of Africans throughout the diaspora. It is based on the belief that unity is vital to economic, social and political progress and aims to unify and uplift people of African descent. Others beside Dr. Martin, like Malcolm X, W.E.B. Du Bois and Muammar Gaddafi embraced the Pan-Africanist notion of collective self-reliance. Dr. Martin’s impressive credentials include 14 edited books on Garvey and Afro-Caribbean history. His scholarship includes: “Marcus Garvey, Hero: A First Biography”; “Message to the People: The Course of African Philosophy”; “The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey”; “African Fundamentalism: A Literary and Cultural Anthology of Garvey’s Harlem Renaissance”; “Literary Garveyism: Garvey, Black Arts and the Harlem Renaissance”; “The Poetical Works of Marcus Garvey”; “Amy Ashwood Garvey: Pan-Africanist, Feminist” and “Mrs. Marcus Garvey No. 1: A Tale of Two Amies”; “The Pan- African Connection: From Slavery to Garvey and Beyond”; and “Caribbean History: From Pre-Colonial Origins to the Present,” which was published in 2012.
In 1976, Professor Martin published his seminal book, Race First: The Ideological and Organizational Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association, which continues to inform students and scholars in the academy.
Professor Khafra Kambon, from the University of the West Indies, was one of the last people to speak with Dr. Martin before he passed, “The loss is more than a personal one, it is a collective loss. Our brother has left a legacy of phenomenal scholarship, particularly his works on Marcus Garvey.”
Dr. Martin’s legacy was not without controversy. As a tireless crusade for the rights of African peoples, he often found himself on the wrong side of mainstream European theorizing about the world, which was the source of several libel suits against him.
Dr. Martin’s scholarship will continue to advance Pan-Africanism for the next generation of Black scholars committed to the principles of group uplift.