This speech was delivered at the #PROUDAFRICANS Rally on Feb. 15, 2018 at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City across from The United Nations.
Brothers and Sisters in the Struggle. Welcome.
This being Black History Month, we need to remember and pay homage to the great African-American educator Dr. Carter Woodson who conceived the idea almost a century ago. This is also the UN Decade for People of African Descent.
The recent bigoted remarks on Africa, Haiti and El Salvador are but the latest in a series of insults directed at people of color, Muslims, women and immigrants by this White House occupant.
The shit-holes reference to African countries was not only disrespectful of and offensive to all Africans but also blatantly racist. We have to thank him however for bringing us together today. He has awakened a sleeping lion: the millions of Africans of the Diaspora. We are here to voice our collective outrage, but our response will be civil and measured without stooping to his level of nefariousness. We are also seizing on this as a teachable moment. You will hear from subsequent speakers a bit of our proud history and Africa’s contribution to the world hoping to educate him, a tall order you might say, and our compatriots of who we are.
Centuries of unpaid labor of Africans made America what it is today, a wealthy and powerful nation. If the current occupant of the White House cannot stand Africans, he better vacate 1600 Pennsylvania Ave lest he be haunted by the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors who built it.
He says he prefers immigrants from Norway. Lady Liberty holding the torch of welcome up high says “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. Nowhere does it say give me your Norwegians only, keep out Muslims, Africans, and Haitians or build walls to keep Mexicans out.
Can you imagine a monochromatic and mono-cultural America without jazz, blues, reggae, salsa and hip-hop, or without the stirring poetry of a Maya Angelou or Aime Cesaire; the lyrical prose of a Toni Morison or Chinua Achebe? An America or a world without the moral conscience of a Dr. King or Nelson Mandela? Just imagine. It would not be an America or a world you would wish to live in.
There would be no lifesaving blood transfusion without the discovery of blood banking by the African American physician Dr. Charles Drew; Information technology (IT) would be inconceivable without the invention of Fibro-optics by the Ghanaian born genius Dr. Thomas Mensah, no space shuttle without the Ethiopian born NASA chief engineer the late Kitaw Ijigu.
Our universities are populated by African scholars such as the noted mathematician at Penn State, Prof Augustin Banyaga from Ruanda, or the Nobel Prize winning professor of chemistry, the Egyptian born Ahmed Zewail of California Institute of technology. The scholarship of Harvard professors, WEB Dubois, Skip Gates, Kwame Apiah and Cornel West is well known to all.
Our hospitals in the major cities across the US would not function without the doctors and nurses from Africa, Haiti and the other Caribbean Islands, and finally a Harvard educated father from a “shit-hole” country, Kenya gave us our 44th President.
We are here to denounce in no uncertain terms Mr. Trump’s vile and hateful words, words that are divisive and can only be characterized as verbal hate crimes. We will not let racism, bigotry and misogyny to be normalized and mainstreamed.
We will not be defined by him or any other except by ourselves.
We are proud Africans and we are here to put him and all elected officials on notice that we will no longer remain silent. We will hold any one who disrespects us accountable and we are out to seek our rightful place in an America that is ethnically and culturally diverse, multi-faith, humanistic and welcoming.
That’s why we say loud and clear
No to racism and bigotry!
No to xenophobia and Islamophobia!
No to modern day slavery!
No to misogyny!
No to criminalization and demonization of immigrants!
We also say-
An Emphatic Yes to Multiculturalism and inclusiveness!
And Yes to a sane, fair and equitable immigration policy!
Yes to DACA and DV.
We are Proud Africans, say it again. We are Proud Africans
Power to the People!!
Dr. Nurhussein is the Chairman of the United African Congress.