People & Events: The 1920 Convention of the Universal Negro Improvement Association
The Universal Negro Improvement Association's first international convention, which Garvey called the First International Convention of the Negro Peoples of the World, opened in Liberty Hall, New York, on August 1, 1920. Approximately two thousand delegates from 22 countries were present. The convention met in regular sessions throughout the month and closed with ceremonies and festivities on August 31, 1920. Huge parades were held through Harlem, including one on August 3 that featured U.N.I.A. officers in full regalia, the Black Star Line band and choir, the African Legion, the U.N.I.A. band, the Black Cross nurses, contingents of delegates from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, and West Africa, various divisional bands, and the U.N.I.A. Motor Corps. The opening parade was followed by an exuberant mass meeting at Madison Square Garden. The audience for Garvey's speech was estimated at twenty-five thousand.
The convention adopted the Declaration of Rights of the Negro People of the World, one of the worldís earliest and most comprehensive human rights documents. Garvey ruled the convention floor with an iron hand. He engineered the election of his handpicked U.N.I.A. officers and his own election as "Provisional President of Africa."