Saturday, September 19, 2020
Marcus Garvey School
By Yussuf Simmonds (Managing Editor)
Published April 14, 2011

“An educational institution for Black children like no other”

Education is a power and a force … it is the surest way for a people to rise and overcome traditional and historic barriers … without a proper and meaningful education, a people specifically Black people, are doomed to be relegated to the ghettos/slums of history.

Dr. Anyim Palmer

Dr. Anyim Palmer (Anyim) was a tenured professor at California State University at Los Angeles when he started the Marcus Garvey School (Garvey) in 1975 with his life savings of $20,000.  He said that he was fired from the Los Angeles public school system, “So I started my own school.” The first school facility was very humble quarters, but the curriculum was of excellent academic quality.  Now it has grown and presently occupies a modern equipped facility with several hundred students.  Once Anyim was asked how young students (pre-teens) can do algebra, calculus, and trigonometry that seem “so hard” for adults, his response was, “They don’t know that it’s hard.”

Garvey is a non-profit, private school with a strong Afro-centric curriculum that propels most students to score two years or more above grade level.  As stated in his book “The Failure of Public Education in the Black Community,” Anyim underscores that fact when he writes; “The Marcus Garvey School is probably the only such school in the nation that has sent seventh graders to college.  The seventh graders who went to various colleges from the Garvey complex experienced the same enrollment process as would the typical twelfth grader for schools X, Y or Z.”

During one interview, when asked if there was any advice that he wanted to give.  Anyim  responded, “To do for ourselves is to do for our people, our children and our family,” and those are the watchwords that have guided Garvey in addition to a group of dedicated staff/teachers who have formed the foundation, seemed to have always been there like “pillars holding up the walls” – some of them from “day one.”  They make up an integral part of Garvey.  To fully understand, and assist Garvey to continue over 35 years of providing the tools of academic excellence for Black children, those who make it possible and the curriculum they use, are equally significant.

The “pillars” of Garvey include Linda Saunders (the current director), Brenda Spencer, Linda Barnes, Marie Stewart, Pat Thomas, and Ethel Patterson.


Linda Saunders is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Marcus Garvey School and has been with the school since 1979.  Describing her time at Garvey, she stated, “The journey has been a long and sometimes tedious one, but at the same time, extremely rewarding.”   It allowed her to touch the lives of many families in a positive way.

In addition, her rise through the ranks of the school is a personification of her commitment, discipline, character, and an unchanging work ethic.  With a background in General Education, Saunders was a natural when she came to Garvey and became a protÇgÇ of Garvey’s founder, Dr. Anyim Palmer.  Beginning as a kindergarten teacher, she was tutored, mentored, and molded her for further development in the areas of academics, culture, politics, and community building.


All the children who attended Garvey address the staff as ‘Sister and Brother’ before his/her last name, and even after they leave, they still refer to Brenda Spencer affectionately as ‘Sister Spencer.’  She has been there from the beginning with Anyim.  According to her, “Love, dedication, passion, and perseverance are the qualities that create the corporeal foundation for a great teacher. Everyday my commitment and concern for teaching is the predecessor to reach our youth, motivate, inspire and innovate their mental capabilities.” To understand the prudence in the adage, “I think therefore I am”, Spencer stated. What it means is to lead by example, and that having hope is everything.

Along with her steadfastness, perseverance and armed with a degree in Child Development, Spencer has used her experience to become proficient in lesson planning and classroom management and leadership.  She has been a kindergarten and elementary grade teacher.  And she has received numerous awards including Parent of the Year award, Disney’s American Teacher award; has given academic presentations to senior citizens and different organizations; and obtained 10 trophies for the Marcus Garvey School’s Annual Science fair over a 10-year span.


Though she came to Garvey in 1987, Linda Barnes’ role relative to the school administration has been invaluable: as administrative assistant, executive director and accounting director.  Without equally strong administration, the school’s strong academic achievements for over 35 years would not have been possible.

Over the years, Barnes’ has been involved in some of the following:

As administration assistant, she has answered all inquiries regarding the school; made appointments for prospective parents to tour facility; and recorded tuition payments and informed parents of account status when delinquencies occurred.

As executive director, she has conducted interviews for in-coming staff; mediated parent conferences; scheduled and conducted staff meetings; helped resolve legal matters by working with school’s legal team; and conducted parent meetings.

As accounting director, she has been responsible for all accounting matters and for the filing of tax forms; responsible for managing and reporting delinquent accounts to the director; responsible for developing school’s budget; and a member of the Board of Directors


With 23 years of experience in teaching, Marie Stewart is currently the Director of Garvey’s pre-School.  Coming to Garvey in 1983, she has acquired 24 units in early childhood development classes and continues to further her own education in order to expand and maintain her role as Director.

Stewart has taught kindergarten and also a rigorous 13-subject curriculum: Phonics, Reading, Mathematics, Science, Health, Language, History, Geography, Spanish, Kiswahili, Etiquette, Motor Skills, Arts and Crafts.  She also participates in non-academic activities on some of the schools Committees and Boards including:

* Co-Chair of Fundraising Committee

* Co-Chair of Curriculum Committee (pre-school)

* Co-chair of Graduation Committee

* Member of Marcus Garvey School Board of Directors

and ETHEL PATTERSON (former teacher and nutritionist respectively) are no longer with the school, but they were an integral part of the Garvey tradition during its formative years.   In addition, throughout the years, the school has been fortunate to have an array of distinguished teachers and staff, without whom Garvey could not have continued to provide quality education to the children in the community.  This includes, but is not limited, to the current teachers and staff members.

To continue serving the community with quality education in accordance with the founder’s (Anyim’s) vision, Garvey has introduced a Stimulus Plan Enrollment Campaign package to attract new students which focuses on:

– Parent Survey Form  2011/2012 – “Our children are our future.”

– Historical Packet, including the school’s mission statement – The mission of the Marcus Garvey School is to establish for its students a fundamentally sound education, to instill in all students a strong sense of academic preparedness, cultural connectedness and the desire to succeed in becoming the architects of their destinies.

– Testimonials – To encourage positive comments from those parents and others whose children have been impacted by Marcus Garvey School.

– Fundraising – Ideas for fundraising for the school to continue its work: teaching children.

– Programs – In conjunction with National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the school is introducing Robotics to the children and the community.

– New Components – New ideas are encouraged and welcomed to allow the school to continue to provide new ideas and programs to the children and the community.

The Marcus Garvey Stimulus Plan salutes the school’ parents in part, stating:

As always, the Marcus Garvey School is extremely grateful for the opportunity to nurture your children both academically and socially.  It is our desire to continue enhancing the academic journeys of your children and to also include a multitude of new children as well.  In order to do this, we have decided to create a stimulus plan that will benefit the school and every parent who’s willing to help make this plan work….

The Marcus Garvey School’s website is



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