Laura Adorkor Kofi left Ghana in 1918 after allegedly getting a vision from God to travel to the United States and aid the African-African population return to the promised land of Africa, and she began her mission as a Godsent prophet to the blacks in the diaspora.
She was born in Accra about 1893, according to her gravestone, and was known as Mother Kofi or Mama Laura. The term Princess is also placed on her gravestone in Old Jacksonville City Cemetery, implying that she was of royal heritage from the Ga village of Asofa.
Laura was from Kumasi and of Ashanti ancestry, according to Vibert White’s book Africa in Florida: Five Hundred Years of African Presence in the Sunshine State, although this is strongly disputed because her name Adorkor is a proper Ga name.
Laura relocated in Detroit shortly after arriving in the United States and became a close companion of Marcus Garvey, who had formed a Negro movement and attracted a large following. Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association quickly promoted her to national field director.
Laura became a key speaker inside the Universal Negro Improvement Association while working with Garvey, and she quickly became the most popular member. Laura was assigned to tasks that required her to speak to tens of thousands of people. Laura grew in popularity after Marcus was arrested for mail fraud in 1925, and she encouraged African Americans to return home.
Unfortunately, after his release, the two had a falling out, and Marcus began to call her a liar and call for her imprisonment on a regular basis.
Laura withdrew from the Universal Negro Improvement Association, fearing for her safety, especially following Marcus Garvey’s release, and migrated to Jacksonville, where she felt safer and more welcomed.
Laura had become well-known among African Americans in the United States by 1927, and was dubbed “the Prophet from Africa.” She founded the African Universal Church, now known as St. Adorka’s African Universal Church, in 1927, and it quickly attracted a large following.
Laura talked about Africa as the promise land and why African Americans should return home through her church and her role as the “Warrior Mother of Africa’s Warriors of the Most High God” – a title she gave herself as the church’s leader. Laura emphasized in several of her lectures about the necessity for black people all over the world to unite and return to Africa to build their communities rather than profit from the lands their forefathers were forced to work on under horrible conditions for years.
Laura drew a largely African American audience for a little over a year, who were grateful to hear about Africa and its wonders from an African. Her lectures and speeches sparked a new movement across the United States and the Caribbean.
Laura was assassinated on March 8, 1928, while giving a lecture to a throng of over 5000 people at a church in Miami that she had not attended since she left. She spoke about God’s power to help Africans and black Americans throughout her sermon.
Laura was shot in the head moments after instructing her security to take a seat so she could continue speaking to the crowd. Her death sparked outrage, prompting the execution of Maxwel Cook, a Jamaican who was a known Garvey admirer and is suspected of being the killer. Maxwell was beaten to death by the crowd as a punishment.
Her body was transported to Jacksonville, where she was laid to rest. A little hamlet named Adorkaville was constructed beside her church in her honor.
Laura Adorkor Kofi’s story of how she moved from Ghana to the United States with the goal of forcing black people to return home is an intriguing one that has many people wondering how she managed to make the transition so smoothly, what her life was like before she moved to the United States, and who ordered her assassination.
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