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African People & The Month Of November: Black Solidarity Month & Beyond


(Menelik II of Ethiopia)

The month of November for persons of African ancestry highlights events that recognize the spirit of freedom within themselves and their demonstration of self-determination. A sign of a free people is their ability to choose their own leaders, in effect crown their own Kings and Queens. As opposed to having their leaders or Kings and Queens selected for them.

November is the time for Black Solidarity Month,  which was founded by Dr. Carlos Russell in 1969. The ability to come together is an expression of freedom. Under oppressive conditions solidarity promotes the necessary conditions for liberation. This is seen in other ethnic groups such as the Polish people with Lech Walesa and the Solidarity Movement in Poland. Taken a step further, “Carlos” the first name of  Dr. Russell is a Spanish variant of “Charles” which means “Free Man”.

Thus we see the two elements of freedom with the Black Solidarity celebration. First, solidarity is an expression of a people’s freedom as well as  a necessary pre-condition in order for a people facing oppression to be free. Also, the first name of the creator of the celebration actually means “Free Man”. The significance of these two points cant and should not be overlooked.

When we look at other historical events in November, we see this theme of “Free Man” resonating throughout the month.

Recently on November 2, 2010 New York City Councilman Charles  Barron ran for governor of New York state as a candidate for the Freedom Party, an independent political party led by persons of African ancestry and Latinos.

Remember the name “Charles” means “Free Man” and the name  of the Freedom Party speaks for itself.

This theme of “Free Man” is seen with two events that took place in Ethiopia on the same month in different years. On November 3, 1889 “Menelik claimed uninterrupted direct male lineage from King Solomon and Queen Sheba, was later consecrated and crowned as Nəgusä Nägäst before a glittering crowd of dignitaries and clergy. He was crowned by Abuna Mattewos, Bishop of Shewa, at the Church of Mary on Mount Entoto”.

Menelik prior to his coronation defeated the Italians who wanted to colonize Ethiopia and neighboring territory, in battles at Amba Alagi and Mekele. Menelik inflicted an even greater defeat on them, at Adowa on March 1, 1896, forcing them to capitulate. A treaty was signed at Addis Ababa recognizing the absolute sovereign independence of Ethiopia.

Menelik expressed the notion of “Free Man” as a defender of Ethiopian sovereignty and as an Emperor or King of Ethiopia. Only a “Free Man” can rule with authority.

Menelik was born on August 17, 1844, which was 43 years before to the exact day, when Marcus Mosiah Garvey  was born on August 17, 1877!  It was Marcus Garvey’s pronouncement for people of African ancestry to look to Africa for the coronation of a Black King, that led many to view Emperor Haile Selassie as fulfillment of Garvey’s words.

Selassie was crowned on November 2, 1930 simultaneously with his wife the Empress or Queen Menen. Haile Selassie was born Tafari Makonnen, He would later become Ras Tafari Makonnen; “Ras” translates literally to “head. The Rastafarian movement would get its name from the title conferred on Selassie before becoming Negus “Ras” and his given name at birth “Tafari”, which means “inspiration” or “he who inspires awe” in Amharic. The term “Rastafari” would then mean the head/royal leader who inspires great awe.

Upon his ascension to Emperor in 1930, he took the name Haile Selassie, meaning “Power of the Trinity”. Haile Selassie’s full title in office was “His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Elect of God”.

Selassie would also have to defend his country against the colonization of Italy with the aggression of fascist Benito Mussolini. Selassie after being in exile from 1936-1941 would reclaim his country on May 5, 1941. Organizations of persons of African ancestry in America, were sympathetic to the Ethiopian cause and proved instrumental  in providing Ethiopia with valuable assistance in their reclamation effort. One example of these types of organizations was the Ethiopian World Federation established on August 25, 1937:

“This organization came into being on August 25, 1937 in New York City, through the efforts of Black Americans who sent a delegation consisting of three prominent Harlem figures, all leaders of the black organization known as the United Aid for Ethiopia. Reverend William Lloyd Imes, Pastor of the prestigious St. James Presbyterian Church, Philip M. Savory of the Victory Insurance Company and co-owner of the New York Amsterdam News, and Mr. Cyril M Philp, secretary of the United Aid, sailed to England in the summer of 1936 to speak with H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I concerning financial matters.

In response, the Emperor empowered his personal physician Dr. Malaku E. Bayen to establish the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated with the purpose set out in the following preamble: “We the Black People of the World, in order to effect Unity, Solidarity, Liberty, Freedom and self-determination, to secure Justice and maintain the Integrity of Ethiopia, which is our divine heritage, do hereby establish and ordain this constitution for The Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated”.

Emperor Selassie established the Shashamanne land grant system in appreciation of the efforts of those in Diaspora who assisted Ethiopia in their war effort.

On November 1, 1936 “Prophet Gad” Veron Carrington was born. Carrington founded the Twelve Tribes of Israel branch of the Rastafari movement in 1968.  Members of the Twelve Tribes of Israel view Carrington as a prophet who began the repatriation of Rastafari to Africa, the homeland. He was a member of The Ethiopian World Federation, founded by Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. Carrington’s branch known as “chapter #15” became The Twelve Tribes Of Israel.

Unlike other branches or “mansions” of the Rastafari movement, The Twelve Tribes of Israel  consider Selassie a divinely anointed king, thus Christ in his kingly character and defender of the christian faith. Prophet Gad made his transition  to the ancestors on March 22, 2005.

The name “Charles”, which means “Free Man” appears again in November with former U.S. Congressman Charles Diggs. Charles Diggs on November 2, 1954 became Michigan’s first elected official of African ancestry. Diggs was elected from Detroit, Michigan’s 13th Congressional District.

Diggs would play an important part in advancing the interests of Black people, by establishing “home rule”  government for Washington, D.C., and being a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus among his list of notable achievements. Diggs passed away on August 24, 1998.

On November 2, 1983 Ronald Reagan signed into law making the third Monday of the month of January as a federal holiday to honor the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King. The theme of “Free Man” and coronation of a “King” are evident on the symbolic level with this event.  A signature of a free people or a people who desire to be free is their choice of heroes to celebrate. The bill to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. as a federal holiday was introduced by Rep. John Conyers of Michigan in 1968, after King’s assassination. Due to public pressure, the King Holiday proposal was signed into law and went into effect in 1986.

There are many events involving people of African ancestry that could have and should be examined critically. As there are many stars in the sky, a group or cluster of them capture the imagination of onlookers for the image they form in contrast to the other luminous lights.

This is the case with the events examined in this article. The events examined reveal a theme in the history of African people. That theme is freedom and self-determination. We observe this in the following manner:

The frequent appearance of the name “Charles” and its Spanish variant “Carlos”. The name “Charles” or “Carlos”  means “Free Man”.

The call for solidarity as seen with Black Solidarity Month, the defense of the sovereignty of Ethiopia with Menelik II and Haile Selassie, the founding of the Congressional Black Caucus by Charles Diggs as well as Charles Barron  and the Freedom Party.

The words Freedom and Rastafari both register the number 39 under the lens of numerology. 39 is a coded reference to the number 13 for 39 is equal to 13X3. 13 is a number indicating spiritual rebirth, rebellion and establishment of a new order. 39 being an expression of 13, points to the spiritual rebirth in three ways: body, mind and spirit.

Haile Selassie to whom, we get the name “Rastafari” is embodiment of the trinity. The name “Haile Selassie” means “Power of the Trinity”. Thus the name “Rastafari” which equals 39 is a coded reference to the three-fold aspect of the number 13.

13 is linked to the name “Charles” which means “Free Man”. This is seen with the first Black elected official from Michigan, Charles Diggs who represented Detroit, Michigan’s 13th Congressional District.

The month of November also in metaphysical and literal terms is the signature of leadership for people of African ancestry. The crowning of Emperors Menelik II, Selassie as well as the establishment of the King holiday all indicate the will of a “Free Man” and his royal divinity.

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