“Emperor Haile, standing in New York hotel suit where he granted exclusive interview, is also called King of Kings, Conquering Lion of Judah, Elect of God and Defender of the Faith. A newsman who met the Emperor in Africa once observed: ‘When he turns those eyes on you, you get a funny feeling like you were going to melt’.”
“If there is such a thing as a ‘kingly air’, the Emperor has it”, observed an important U.S. State Department official who accompanied the five-foot-four monarch on his eight-day U.S. visit”
“On a cool October morning, Emperor Haile Selassie fulfilled in part the biblical prophecy that Ethiopia shall one day ‘stretch forth its hand…’. On that occasion, the little man who for one dramatic hour in 1936 became the conscience of the world, extended the hand of brotherhood to 20 million Americans of African descent, urging them to have faith in their future as free men and to press on with their current struggle for freedom until it is won. He also urged American Negroes to recognize their stake in Africa’s fight against colonialism.
The Emperor’s eight-day state visit (his second) to the United States stirred images that still lingered after 27 years, images of a bewhiskered monarch astride a white stallion leading barefooted Ethiopians against the invading Italian army. Ethiopian spears dueling Italian machine guns. Rocks challenging aerial bombs. Flaming patriotism versus poison gas. And Emperor Haile Selassie pleading to the League of Nations for aid and accurately predicting that Ethiopia’s fall would be a bell tolling the death of the League.
The events of 1935-36 haunted Emperor Selassie during his visit to Philadelphia, Washington and New York, flitting in and out of his talks with President Kennedy and other Americans. (…)
This was my second meeting with the legendary King of Kings. The first confrontation had taken place in 1961 in the richly-ornamented study of his gilded palace in Addis Ababa. (…)
My second meeting was more brief. Emperor Selassie displayed a remarkable composure under rapid-fire questioning and was prepared to continue the interview indefinitely if his schedule had permitted. He apologized for closing the interview, explaining that New York City had arranged a ticker tape welcoming for him and he ought to be there for it. (…)
“Emperor Selassie is the 225th head of the world’s oldest independent state, a 3000-year-old nation that, as one observer put it, ’emerged when England and France were unconceived and the United States inconceivable’. But while contemplating his nation’s extended past, the 72-year-old monarch does not lost sight of the present.”