Swamp Diversity: 4 Negro FBI Agents Who Busted Our Savior Marcus Garvey

Swamp Diversity: 4 Negro FBI Agents Who Busted Our Savior Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey FBI
By Autumn Keiko

Brothers will turn against their own brothers and give them to be killed.” -Mark 13:12

This scripture is prophetic when it comes to iconic civil rights and Black empowerment leader Marcus Garvey. Though four Black FBI agents and informants didn’t literally kill the Jamaican-born activist, they assisted with his character assassination, reported the Washington Post.

It all happened under the auspices of Black progress within the FBI who were ‘diversifying’ the organization by hiring Black agents and informants. Garvey had an immense love for his people and the FBI used that against him. Stress manifests itself in different ways. Garvey died at the young age of 52 from two strokes,

Depending on who you ask, history paints a complex picture of Garvey. However, as mentioned earlier, no one can dispute his passion for his people nor that he dedicated his life to fighting for the betterment of descendants of the African Diaspora across the globe. 

Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and The Negro World. He was also an entrepreneur who started the Black Star Line and prominent leader of the “Back To Africa” movement. It is often said before Malcolm and before Martin, there was Marcus.

After emigrating to the U.S. from Jamaica and gaining a large following for his message and work to empower Black people, Garvey became a subject of interest of the Bureau of Investigation, the precursor to the FBI. They used Garvey’s love for his people as a strategy to plant Black agents and informants to take surveillance of him, the UNIA and their activities.


Emmett J. Scott was one of them. An agent at the Bureau, Scott posed as a reporter who attended Garvey’s UNIA meetings and conventions who interviewed Garvey.


Maj. Walter H. Loving was a retired Army officer and a member of the Military Intelligence Division who sent Black informants to UNIA meetings. He was assisting with intensive surveillance of the Black press overall.

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Herbert Simeon Boulin was Jamaican businessman in Harlem who befriended Garvey but was really a Bureau informant. He began giving them gave harmful information such as accusations that Garvey’s movement was anti-white. 


James Wormley Jones – a World War I veteran, Black police officer and first Black FBI special agent – also went undercover to take Garvey down. His information was the nail in the coffin J. Edgar Hoover needed to arrest Garvey.

Jones reported that Garvey’s Black Star Line was in “financial straits,” but the UNIA was continuing to promote stock in the company. He also said they would continue to sell stock and Hoover and his team deemed the sales fraudulent.   


Based on Jones’ information, after years of repeated efforts by Hoover, they indicted Garvey on mail fraud and arrested him in 1922. Despite insufficient evidence, Garvey was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.

Though his sentence was commuted by President Calvin Coolidge in 1927, he was deported back to Jamaica. Garvey, nor his movement ever fully recovered. He died in 1940 after moving to London.

In 2016, Garvey’s family made a huge push to have his name cleared and requested a pardon from then-President Barack Obama. However, the pardon was not granted. His family continues to fight to restore dignity to Garvey’s name.

Case in point: There is such thing as good diversity, but swamp diversity occurs when Black people are hired with ill intentions. While Scott, Loving and Jones made great strides for Black culture as individuals, they also helped take down a leader who wanted to advance the culture as a whole.

Maybe they didn’t see it that way at the time, but it’s hard to get ahead when one doesn’t know if the person standing next to them is for or against them.