The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 52, Issue 1

Article 3
Marcus Garvey’s The Black Star Line Hopes, Dreams, and the S.S. Yarmouth

Brittany Hancock


Marcus Garvey’s the Black Star Line (BSL) was a steamship company completely owned, operated, and financed by people of African descent. Using the S.S. Yarmouth’s (the Black Star Line’s first ship) voyages as an example, this article analyses the feasibility of the BSL. The Black Star Line would have succeeded if trust had been placed in businessmen knowledgeable in the shipping industry, if profit had been placed over publicity, and if Garvey’s popularity had been capitalized on financially. Regarding the functioning of the company, the role of the Federal Government and the Yarmouth’s captain, Joshua Cockburn, are addressed. This article also highlights the BSL’s reception across the globe. By documenting the hearty responses of Garvey’s followers at individual meetings and the S.S. Yarmouth’s voyages, one grasps the enormity of the Black Star Line’s influence and potential for profit through stock-selling and commercial prospects.