Ho Chi Minh, the famed Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader was instrumental in leading North Vietnam to eventual independence from French colonizers. According to historians, Ho was influenced partly by the teachings of Marcus Garvey during a stay in America.
Ho Chi Minh was born Nguyễn Sinh Cung on May 19, 1890. Much of Ho’s early life has been filled exaggerated facts, but what is known is that he began traveling the world and studying different cultures around 1911. In 1912, Ho arrived to America’s shores and began living between Boston and Harlem, according to his personal but often challenged account. It was customary for revolutionary leaders to exaggerate facts to add to their mystique.
During the time Ho was in Harlem, he was said to have attended several meetings and lectures by the UNIA leader and pan-Africanist, Marcus Garvey. Garvey’s words may have influenced him. In 1924, Ho published a pamphlet titled “The Black Race” (translated from French) which detailed the conditions and horrors African-Americans faced under the false democracy of America.
In the essay, Ho wrote, “It is well-known that the Black race is the most oppressed and the most exploited of the human family. It is well-known that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the New World had as an immediate result the rebirth of slavery. What everyone does not perhaps know is that after sixty-five years of so-called emancipation, American Negroes still endure atrocious moral and material sufferings, of which the most cruel and horrible is the custom of lynching.”
After returning to French-ruled Vietnam, Ho helped lead militant forces in a fight for independence. Declaring victory in 1945, Ho would later surrender to the French in exchange for the Northern portion of the country which was renamed The Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
Ho shared a birthday with Black nationalist leader El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X. Ho reportedly worked in the same Boston bakery between 1912 and 1913 as Malcolm X did the ’40s.
In 1969, during the height of the Vietnam War, Ho died of heart failure at the age of 79. It was then that Vietnamese forces became even more emboldened to drive out American military, which they eventually did thus ending a long, bloody and unpopular war. The capital city of North Vietnam, once named Saigon, was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City in his honor. In 1975, the Vietnam War ended and the country reunified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
(Photo: Public Domain)