Carlos Alexander Cooks and the Development of Black Nationalism



It is likely that you have never heard of Carlos Alexander Cooks, though he has profoundly shaped the development of Black Nationalism in the U.S. Cooks was born in the Dominican Republic, Caribbean on 6/23/1913 to James Henry Cooks and Alice Cooks. His parents were originally from the neighboring island of St. Martin.

Descriptzto James Henry Cooks and Alice Cooks, who were originally from the neighboring island of St. Martin. His education took place mostly in Santo Domingo until moving to New York in 1929 where he went on to higher learning.


Cooks’ intellect was recognized from an early age. He attended the leadership school in the Voodoo Sacré Society. He became involved in the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), where both his father and uncle were among the many St. Martiners who were members of the organization led by Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr

Cooks went on join the Garvey Union and its Universal African Legion. Marcus Garvey played a central role in shaping Cooks’ political career. At age nineteen, Cooks was knighted by Garvey, becoming an official and active member of the UNIA. In the years between Garvey's death (1940) and the appearance of Malcolm X in Harlem (1954) Cooks was one of the most important Black nationalist figures in Harlem and the United States. In fact, after Marcus Garvey was deported, Carlos Cooks led the Advance Division of the UNIA. 


Black Nationalism from Garvey to Malcolm
On 6/23/1941, on his birthday, Cooks would found the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement (ANPM). Born out of Garvey's UNIA, Cooks envisioned the ANPM as "an educational, inspirational, instructive, constructive and expansive society... composed of people desirous of bringing about a progressive, dignified, cultural, fraternal and racial confraternity among the African peoples of the world.” On the streets of Harlem in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, the ANPM kept the spirit of the UNIA alive, capturing the political pulse of the Black Nationalist community.

In September 1941, months after Cooks founded the ANPM,  writer Jane Cooke Wright wrote the following in the New York Age newspaper: “The Honorable Carlos Cooks, an important character in the advance division of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, exemplifies the views of Marcus Garvey. He preaches the supremacy of the Blacks. This wishful thinking, he believes will someday come true. At present the white people in Europe are killing each other off and therefore the final battle will be between the whites and the Blacks on the sands of Africa.”

Cooks was committed to Black economic achievement. It is said that it was Cooks who coined the phrase “BUY BLACK” as an economic solution in African-American communities across the U.S. On 5/5/1966, Cooks died in Harlem New York at the age of 52. 



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