This Day in Black History: Nov. 2, 1930

Haile Selassie becomes emperor of Ethiopia.

Posted: 11/01/2012 06:10 PM EDT
Haile Selassie became emperor of Ethiopia on Nov. 2, 1930

Haile Selassie, a defining figure in Ethiopian and African history, was the heir to a dynasty whose origins have been traced back to the 13th century, including roots that are said to go back to King Solomon and Queen Makeda, the Queen of Sheba.

He served as his country’s emperor from 1930 to 1974. He was also a commanding figure on the international stage. In 1936, he made headlines by condemning the use of chemical weapons by Italy’s government under Benito Mussolini. His worldview contributed to Ethiopia being a charter member of the United Nations.

Among the Rastafari movement, whose followers are estimated at between 200,000 and 800,000, Selassie is revered as the returned messiah of the Bible. He was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian throughout his life.

In 1974, he was deposed in a military action. His last months were spent in prison. His death, in 1975, was the topic of great speculation, particularly from Ethiopians who did not believe the regime’s assertion that Selassie died of complications from a prostate cancer operation.


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 (Photo: Henry Guttmann/Getty Images)

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