Juneteenth and the Global Freedom Struggle

A Statement by His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia


The Ethiopian Crown Council applauds the passing of legislation this week to recognize Juneteenth as a Federal holiday in the United States of America, and we join the African- American diaspora in celebrating this special occasion. Juneteenth commemorates the day — June 19, 1865 — when a Union Army order first enforced the Emancipation Proclamation in the state of Texas. It has since grown into a symbol of freedom from slavery for the entire Black diaspora in the United States of America.

The story of Juneteenth is a story with close parallels to Ethiopian history. Ethiopia’s emperors struggled to eradicate slavery in the nineteenth century. The Emperor Tewodros II’s first attempts to end the practice in the 1850s predate those of the United States. Enforcement of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was slow, uneven, and often depended on force of arms. Likewise, under the Emperor Menelik II and the Emperor Haile Selassie I, Ethiopia’s central government pushed for the abolition of slavery but encountered strong opposition from powerful regional landowners. Not until 1942 did Ethiopia enshrine abolition of slavery into law in its own form of Juneteenth.

In the following decades, Ethiopia became a world leader in the cause of freedom. Ethiopia’s struggle against fascism and triumph over its invaders had inspired Africans at home and in the diaspora. As Black Americans fought the civil rights struggle in the United States, African freedom fighters turned to Ethiopia for inspiration and support in the struggle to end colonialism. We were instrumental in the creation of the Organisation of African Unity — the symbol of Africa’s new-found freedom — and we are still the home of its successor, the African Union, today.

But this journey remains unfinished. Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council, noted: “Juneteenth is the celebration of a pivotal event in human history. But a turning point is never the end of the story. Over the past year, events throughout the world have taught us that the struggle for full freedom is not yet over. As Ethiopians go to the polls this month, we pray that Ethiopia’s leaders will act with the wisdom and courage necessary to give our people ever greater freedom.”

Prince Ermias Urges a Commitment to Unity

Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie in Traditional Attire

A Statement by His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, as the Nation Prepares for Elections and the Challenges of the International and Domestic Communities

His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, said he wished to profoundly thank the thousands of wellwishers who had sent him heartfelt greetings for his 61st birthday on June 14, 2021 / 11 ሰኔ 2013. But he asked that he be permitted to re-direct that outpouring of goodwill to the people of Ethiopia as they prepare to do their duty on June 21, 2021 to vote in national elections, even as the nation suffered from drought, the tragedy of communal fighting, and grave international pressures.

“We have endured so much in Ethiopia since the coup which occurred 47 years ago, and we cannot afford to allow our beloved Ethiopian family to fall into even worse suffering and ignominy at this time,” the Prince said. “We must, once and for all, come back together because there is no other way for us to rebuild the greatness of purpose which has guided us for more than three millennia.”

“Please rest assured that the Crown Council has never, and will never, cease to work to ease the sufferings of Ethiopians, and to ensure that the international community recognises the importance and historical dignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. I have been working even more intensely of late at the highest levels around the world to attempt to have Ethiopia’s case heard, meeting in the past month with His Holiness Pope Francis I in the Vatican, and with planned meetings with Orthodox Christian leaders in the near future.”

“We have offered all our services to help resolve the disputes over the future management of our great Nile River which Ethiopians truly see as a resource for humanity over which they have been given great responsibility. This is, in fact, an issue which can see as the cornerstone of a Grand Bargain, worthy of an Emperor Haile Selassie or an Anwar as-Sadat, to bring prosperity to our entire region.”

Prince Ermias added: “I have been blessed with good health at this time of my life so that I can lend all my energies to helping to heal the great wounds inflicted on our beloved Ethiopian family this past half-century, and to ensure that our decades of isolation may never be seen by foreign powers or domestic dissidents as a sign that we are today weakened and in dis-unity. We are, in fact, in a time of great hope that Ethiopia’s greatness is returning: a greatness underpinned by fairness, equality, and pride in the unique nature of all Ethiopians.”

“My fellow Ethiopians: we have much to do; we have a right to feel great hope. We are Ethiopian and proud of our great history. God Bless You. God Bless Ethiopia.”