Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Department of African and African American Studies

First Advisor

Dr. David F. Dorsey


This study examined the backgrounds of Marcus Garvey and Elijah Muhammad, analyzed the origins and ideologies of their respective black nationalist programs, and traced the historical inaccuracies concerning their individual relationships to each other and their programs' interrelationship. The study was based upon the premise that many historians have misrepresented the history of black nationalism by creating theoretical links between Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association and Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam. The thesis scrutinized the evolution of some theories which led to the Nation of Islam being identified, historically, as a scion of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. The study utilized a comparative approach based upon the juxtaposition of historical evidence concerning Garvey and Muhammad's upbringings, their religious beliefs, and their personal associations. The study found that Garvey and Muhammad's economic agendas closely resembled one another, but their programs were not as ideologically connected as many historians have suggested. The conclusion drawn from this study was that historians not only must research academic sources, but also, they must rely upon non-traditional sources in order to balance mainstream tendencies to misrepresent black nationalism.