Published: Saturday, June 14, 2014
New York (TADIAS) — It has been four decades since Emperor Haile Selassie mysteriously died in the hands of an Ethiopian military junta that had deposed him. And two years since the current generation of African Union (AU) leaders notoriously ignored his legacy in helping to establish the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the AU, that is headquartered in Ethiopia. But today if you go to Philadelphia’s historic district, just a few blocks from Independence Hall - where the forefathers of this country famously declared their independence from British colonial rule on July 4th, 1776 — the National Liberty Museum has a portrait of Haile Selassie along with other world leaders such as the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela under the banner ‘Heroes Who Stood Up to Tyrants,” recognizing the Emperor for his global efforts to shame the fascist dicator Benito Musolini who orchestrated a brutal five-year occupation of Ethiopia. The Philly History blog also recounts Haile Selassie’s stop in Philadelphia in October 1963 where he visited Independence Hall and touched the Liberty Bell.
Haile Selassie, who remains the only Ethiopian leader to have received a State reception in America, was greeted at Union Station in Washington D.C. by President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. In his speech (see video below) President Kennedy stated: “I know I speak on behalf of all my fellow Americans in welcoming his Imperial Majesty back to the United States. Since His Majesty visited the United States nearly a decade ago we have seen one of the most extraordinary revolutions in history. And that has been the appearance on the world scene of 29 independent countries in the short space of less than ten years, including over 150 million people. The conference recently held in His Majesty’s capital served, I think, to bring together in a great cooperative movement the people of most of these countries. And the success of that conference was due to in no small part to the leadership of our distinguished guest. His efforts to move his country forward to provide a better life for its people and his efforts throughout the world, which dates back over 30 or 40 years. For all of this your Majesty we take the greatest pride in welcoming you here. You do us honor and I can assure you that there is no guest that we will receive in this country that will give a greater sense of pride and satisfaction to the American people than your presence here today. Your Majesty, you are most welcome.”
This week Oklahoma State University will mark the 60th anniversary of Haile Selassie’s visit there on June 18, 1954 to thank the college for its contribution in modernizing agriculture and education in Ethiopia under the Point Four Program.
If You Go:
The 60th Anniversary Celebration: Emperor Haile Selassie’s Visit to OSU
Wednesday, June 18th, 2014, 9:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m.
Wes Watkins Auditorium, 207 Wes Watkins Center, Stillwater, OK 74078
Tickets are necessary only for the luncheon. The presentations are open to the public.
More info at: www.iso.okstate.edu
Click here to listen to the complete audio of President John F. Kennedy’s welcoming remarks to Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, at Union Station in Washington, D.C., on October 1st, 1963.