Today as we honor the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination- let’s remember our nation and its global fusions which started to move us and the entire world forward in building the future that we wanted to see beyond our religious, racial, gender and socio-economic class divides. On March 8, 1961- 4 years after Ghana had become the 1st sub- Saharan African nation to gain independence from colonial rule- ” President Kennedy went to the airport & personally welcomed (under an umbrella) President Nkrumah of Ghana, the first chief of state to visit Washington during his administration… After this moment, every African country wanted independence, even those who weren’t “ready” for it.” -NY Times-March 9,1961
This also opened the door for Black Civil Rights in America to be addressed globally because at the time Blacks in America still lived under Jim Crow – “Separate but Equal” laws and had to enter thru the back door and could not congregate with Whites freely. The so called land of freedom and democracy of America couldn’t shamefully and undiplomatically tell Black African heads of states and their entourages to enter thru the back door or that they could not have the same freedoms and rights as their visiting counterpart White heads of states. We no longer see Presidents of the USA going to welcome their colleagues at the airport today. Dr. Nkrumah was a special man for not only Africa, but for and to the world. No African leader since him has been able to command this type of true global respect in leadership in truly being your own man un-bought and un-bossed- not even the great president Nelson Mandela.
President John F. Kennedy’s Remarks of Welcome to President Nkrumah of Ghana at the Washington National Airport.
‘‘I want to take this opportunity to welcome again to the United States, which he knows so well, the first citizen of Ghana, President Nkrumah.
Yesterday, in his speech at the United Nations, he quoted a common hero, I believe, Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson also once said, “The disease of liberty is catching.”
It has been the object of our guest’s life to make sure that that disease of liberty spreads around the globe. He has fought for it in his own country. He fights for it in Africa–he fights for it in the world.
We share the same basic aspiration for the United States as he works for his own country. We share the same basic aspiration for Africa that he wishes for–and for the world.
It is therefore a great honor and a great pleasure for me, as President of the United States, to welcome a distinguished citizen of a friendly country, and also a distinguished citizen of the world, the President of Ghana, President Nkrumah.”
The President greeted President Nkrumah at the Washington National Airport. President Nkrumah responded as follows:
As this is our first meeting since your assumption of responsibility as President of the United States, may I be permitted to offer you my personal and hearty congratulations and those of the Government and people of Ghana. We all look forward to a period of continued cooperation and understanding between our two countries.
I hope that our meeting today will strengthen our relations and contribute towards the establishment of lasting peace and stability in Africa and in the world.
These are troublous times. They are also times of opportunity for action. Let us, therefore, emphasize and consolidate the very many things that unite us, and from that starting point tackle the problems which confront us in our time. I am sure, Mr. President, that success will crown our efforts.
I thank you and the people of the United States for the warm welcome that has been accorded to me.’‘