H.I.H. Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile Selassie, grandson of H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia placed a wreath of red, yellow and green flowers at the African American Civil War Memorial on September 12th, the first day of the 3rd Ethiopian Millennium – (Ethiopia still follows the original Egyptian Calendar.) Surrounded by a group of Ethiopian religious and military officials, and other leaders in the Ethiopian, African American and Ethiopian World Federation community, H.I.H. Prince Ermias spoke eloquently about the debt Ethiopians owe to the African American community for their support during Mussolini’s Fascist invasion of Ethiopia, and their struggle for civil rights enabling Ethiopian Americans to participate in American society with dignity.
The congregation then proceeded to New Bethel Baptist Church for a ceremony featuring speakers including; Chris Haley, nephew of Alex Haley, and Director of the Study of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland at the Maryland State Archives; Nebiat Solomon, Director of the Office of African Affairs in the Office of the Mayor Fenty and Ward One Councilman Jim Graham who brought the elephant tusks residing at City Hall that Emperor Selassie donated to Washington during his visit in 1954.
H.I.H. Prince Ermias made an impassioned speech invoking the historical ties between Africans in the Diaspora, and a commitment to make the future more peaceful and prosperous for Africa and the world. Photos were displayed of African American pilots Herbert Julian, aka “The Black Eagle,” and Colonel John Robinson who both commanded Ethiopian Air Forces against the Italians; Dr. Melaku Bayen, the first Ethiopian medical school graduate in the US, who founded the Ethiopian Research Council with diplomat Dr. Ralphe Bunche and historian Dr. William Leo Hansberry at Howard University; H.I.M. Haile Selassie presenting an Ethiopian Cross to Pastor and Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem; and jazz great Duke Ellington performing in Ethiopia.
More activities are being planned to provide opportunities to strengthen the relationship between the Ethiopian and African American communities in Washington, DC for the future including a religious pilgrimage to Ethiopia, cultural education programs, and grassroots actions on various local issues.