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Black American Passport Ownership Up 400% Since the 90's! Is Garvey's Dream Coming True?

Black American Passport Ownership Up 400%

There are noticeable differences in U.S. passport ownership between people of different races. In 2024 Hispanic Americans (56%) are more likely than white Americans (42%) or Black Americans (38%) to hold a current U.S. passport.

The more education a person has , the more likely they are to have a passport. Among people whose highest level of education is a high school degree or less, 24% have a current U.S. passport. The share is 39% among people who have completed some college, 64% among people whose highest level of education is a college degree, and 71% among people who have a postgraduate degree. With the rise in Black educational aspirations and the ten year decrease in Black incarceration we see a lot of the diaspora engaged in international travel.

A March 2023 update from the U.S. State Department said that there has been an “unprecedented demand” for passport processing in 2023 as many Americans are returning to international travel. This has led to increases in processing time for passport renewals: Where it used to take six to nine weeks, the State Department now says it will take 10 to 13 weeks. this rise has been especially significant among Black Americans who in the 70s had less than 3% of US passports!

Historically between 1834 and the 1860s, the U.S. Department of State refused to grant free people of color official passports for international travel. During a period when passport policy was still nascent, by rejecting black applicants, the federal government illustrated how travel and citizenship were inextricably linked in the United States. At the same time that African Americans could not get passports, state laws and customs required Black people to carry a series of identification papers best thought of as racialized surveillance documents, including slave passes, black sailors’ passports, and free papers. Demonstrating how fundamentally raced the idea of carrying papers was to white Americans, when white people traveled abroad, they consistently grumbled about having to show their papers. For Black travelers, however, the passport was an object of desire because it denoted U.S. citizenship.

The goal of the US Government at that time was to keep Black people from returning to Africa and imparting their knowledge of the psychology of the west, unification ideologies and skills to those in their homeland. Civil rights/ Pan Africanist leader Marcus Garvey believed that the success of repatriation efforts would force European colonizers to leave the African countries once thy were armed with the knowledge African Americans could impart. Garvey believed that this would be the major catalyst for the longed-for self-governance, as well as political independence. Starting in 1930, a number of African-Americans migrated.

The Black Star Line (1919−1922) was a shipping line started by Marcus Garvey, the organizer of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), and other members of the UNIA. The shipping line was created to facilitate the transportation of goods and eventually African Americans throughout the African diasporic global economy. It derived its name from the White Star Line, a line whose economic success Garvey believed he could duplicate enriching Black Americans in the process of uniting the diaspora. The Black Star Line became a key part of Garvey's contribution to the Back-to-Africa movement, but it was unsuccessful, mainly due to infiltration by federal agents. It was one among many businesses which the UNIA originated, such as the Universal Printing House, Negro Factories Corporation, and the widely distributed and highly successful Negro World weekly newspaper.

The US President J Edgar Hoover wanted to stop Marcus Garvey at any cost! J Edgar Hoover hired the first black FBI agent to spy on Marcus Garvey, and the FBI damaged many of the Black Star Line's ships to keep Blacks from leaving the US. J. Edgar Hoover was a bigger enemy of Marcus Garvey than W.E.B. Du Bois who had left The Niagara movement for the better funded NAACP, and Hoover hired a black agent to spy on him. The US Government used the post office to stop Garvey. Garvey would eventually be convicted of mail fraud charges in 1923. He was jailed in the Atlanta federal penitentiary in February 1925, where he would serve almost three years of a five-year sentence. And in 1927, Garvey would be deported from the United States, never to return.


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