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The Black Stars, can trace its nickname to Marcus Garveys Universal Negro Improvement Association. Acirc Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African nation to gain independence from Britain in 1957. Acirc The newly self-governing nation changed its name from Gold Coast and adopted a flag that featured the tri-color banner of Ethiopia and a black star that recalled Marcus Garveys pan-Africanism, black nationalism and, specifically, the Black Star Line.

Garveys Universal Negro Improvement Association was the largest mass movement of African Americans in history (to that point); the UNIA flourished in the late 1910s and 1920s. Acirc Garvey, a Jamaican immigrant, and the UNIA stridently called for black independenc, economic and cultural independence in the United States and political independence in Africa. Acirc Garveys philosophy echoed the World War I rhetoric of self-determination for all peoples. Acirc The UNIA established a framework of businesses, newspapers, fraternal organizations, and conferences to promote its goals of self-help and self-respect. Acirc A million Americans joined hundreds of chapters and staged parades throughout the country; many thousands more in the Caribbean and Africa also supported the movement.

The UNIAs most ambitious undertaking, the Black Star Line, was established in 1919 as a black-owned, black-operated shipping line that would carry cargo and people between Africa, the Caribbean and the United States.* Acirc; Thousands of African Americans purchased $5 shares in the venture; supporters were so enthusiastic that Garvey was able to acquire the Black Stars first ship in only three months. Acirc Though the Black Star Line eventually folded through a combination of mismanagement, bad weather, and the interference of J. Edgar Hoovers Bureau of Investigation, it embodied Garveys philosophy of black self-sufficiency, race pride and pan-African unity.

Seeing the imagery of Garveys Black Star Line show up on the field of play in the World Cup is a good reminder of the significant role that Garveys ideas about black nationalism and the unity of all people of African descent had in the African independence movements of the twentieth century. Acirc He called for Africa for the Africans. Acirc Garveys ideology underlay the proceedings of the Fifth Pan-African Conference in 1945 that laid out the goals for a post-colonial Africa. (Sixty-five years later, Africans now take great pride in hosting a World Cup and showing the world evidence of African political, social and economic progress.) Acirc When we see and hear about the Black Stars of Ghana today, its an opportunity to recall the first black nationalist movement they are named for.

*The Black Star Line was a clever twist on the name of Britains White Star Line.