Marcus Garvey was born in 1887 on the north coast of British-controlled Jamaica. In 1914 Garvey formed the Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation Association and African Communities League (which was later shortened to the United Negro Improvement Association, UNIA). Garvey immigrated to the United States during World War I, and soon established an American branch of UNIA in New York City. Seeking to unite peoples of African descent throughout the world into one large racial movement, Garvey organized, encouraging pride among Africans everywhere along the way. Garvey's message of black pride and racial separatism was extremely attractive to blacks, gaining him the largest grass roots following of any movement of African Americans in United States history. From the late 1910s to the early 1920s, his movement raised millions of dollars from small donations provided by working-class blacks eager for social and economic change.
UNIA purchased ships to trade with African nations and to allow African-Americans to return to their homeland. "Back to Africa" emerged as a popular slogan of the organization. Unlike Du Bois, who argued for full political and social integration, Garvey thought that African-Americans should establish their own separate social and economic organizations outside of white America. Although Garvey approved somewhat of Washington's focus on economic advancement, the Jamaican immigrant favored complete independence from entanglements with white America. Washington, by contrast, used the popularity of his accommodationist and gradualist approach to inequality to acquire significant patronage and support from white American business leaders and politicians. Before leaving Jamaica, Garvey gave a speech in which he called upon his fellow "Afro-West Indians" to unite in order to make "history for the race":
For God's sake, you men and women who have been keeping yourselves away from the people of your own African race, cease the ignorance; unite your hands and hearts with the people of Africa, Sons and daughters of Africa, I say to you arise, take on the toga of race pride, and throw off the brand of ignominy which has kept you back for so many centuries. Dash asunder the petty prejudices within your own fold.