An Emperor visits Loyola

In June of 1954 Loyola hosted a very prominent guest: His Imperial Majesty the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Haile Selassie I, Elect of God, Emperor of Ethiopia.

His Imperial Majesty served as the 225th Emperor of Ethiopia, a 3,000 year familial reign that ended when he was deposed in a 1974 coup. Twenty years prior to that coup he was in New Orleans as part of a worldwide tour, one of many he undertook in an effort to connect Ethiopia with the West and western development. He was a slight man, but reportedly an imposing presence.  The New York Times reported at his death in 1975:

[T]he Emperor looked emaciated, and was only 5 feet 4 inches tall. But he managed to convey an imposing presence and an air of cold command whether he was seated at his desk in military uniform with a blazing array of decorations across his chest; or whether he was standing, caped, on the rostrum of the League of Nations; or whether, seated bolt upright in his green or maroon Rolls-Royce, he was motoring through the dusty streets of Addis Ababa as his subjects lay prostrate while he passed.

His Imperial Majesty is also known as a central figure of the Rastafari Movement. The crowning of the Emperor, whose name at birth was Ras Tafari Makonnen, in 1930 was interpreted by some in Jamaica as fulfillment of a prophecy made a decade prior by Jamaican Pan-African leader Marcus Garvey, who predicted the rise of an African King who would lead the Diaspora back to Africa.  Haile Selassie I was viewed as that leader, a messiah of the African people, and adherents adopted the Emperor, himself a Coptic Christian, into the center of the Rastafari Movement.

1954 Wolf coverage of Haile Selassie's visit.

Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

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