How Bob Marley changed the meaning of Marcus Garvey’s “One Love”.

Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley

The goal of the great Marcus Garvey was for the Black race to become one unit regardless if they were in Africa or scattered in the western hemisphere by the oppressors.  Garvey’s motto for Blacks was “One God, One Aim, One Destiny” and he would end all of his speeches with the phrase “One Love”, even though he would drag the word love so it sounded more like One Loooooove.

Garvey coined the phrase “One Love” to promote self-love amongst Black people who were taught to hate themselves for so long.  The one God of which Marcus Garvey spoke was the “God of Ethiopia, the everlasting God”.  This is the same God that Leonard Howell a student of Marcus Garvey looked to when he started the Rasta movement.  As the Rasta movement grew in Pinnacle (A Rasta community formed by Howell in St. Catherine, Jamaica), One Love also became the motto within the community.

The cry of One Love signifying unity amongst Black people to combat white oppression lasted for decades until Bob Marley decided to put the phrase in a song.  It is not known if Bob had the same intention for the phrase as did its creator Marcus Garvey or even Garvey’s student, Percival Howell.  What we know is that reggae song “One Love” is actually a cover version of Curtis Mayfield’s “People get Ready” but Bob replace Mayfield chorus with the Marcus Garvey’s One Love.

With Garvey’s phrase put to song, the phrase has completely lost its meaning.  Instead of promoting Black love, One Love now means that Black people have no right to love themselves unless they love all other ethnicities also.

The hippies who could care less about Black progress saw the Rasta movement as something cool to be a part of and used the One Love phrase as a stamp of approval that they can be part of the Rasta movement if they choose to.  Black sellouts or Bag-a-wire, as we prefer to call them, were all too happy to feel loved by whites that they did not care if it was true love or if the so-called love even included respect.

So with hippies wanting to be a part of Black culture for the “coolness” and not the struggle, couple with self-hating Blacks dying to feel accepted, Garvey’s One Love that was supposed signify Black unity has become a cry of kumbaya.