Ho Chi Minh, president of North Vietnam and founder of the Indochina Communist Party, lived for a time in New York City, where he attended meetings in Harlem of the Universal Negro Improvement Trust, also known as the Universal Negro Improvement Association, founded by Marcus Garvey, according to the book “Ho Chi Minh: A Life” by William J. Duiker.
Gravey’s organization was dedicated to black economic self-determination and racial pride, but some black leaders, including W.E.B. Du Bois, co-founder of the NAACP, did not like Garvey or his message of self-reliance. Garvey also had an enemy in FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
Hoover hired the agency’s first black agent for the sole purpose of spying on Garvey, who Hoover considered a troublemaker.
However, Ho Chi Minh felt differently about Marcus Garvey and the movement he led and inspired.
During the Vietnam War, when peace delegations visited Hanoi, then the capital of North Vietnam and now the country’s capital, Ho Chi Minh told them that he was “strongly moved by the plight of black people around the world because they had contributed generously to the movement.”
Ho Chi Minh initially moved to New York because at the time he believed the U.S. would help overthrow French colonists in Vietnam.
Eventually, he realized he was wrong. While in New York, Ho Chi Minh worked as a laborer in Chinatown, earning $40 a month. He also lived in Boston and in the South where he witnessed the lynchings of black men.
Saigon, Vietnam’s most populous city, has been renamed Ho Chi Min City. He died September 2, 1969 before the Vietnam War ended April 30, 1975. He was 79.