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Ambassador King Celebrates International Year for People of African Descent
November 10, 2011

Remarks by Ambassador Betty King
Reception for the events commemorating the International Year for People of African Descent

November 9, 2011,

– as prepared for delivery –

I would like to thank the Brazilian Mission and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for organizing this fine series of events celebrating the International Year for People of African Descent.  We are all very much looking forward to the musical program, so I will not take more than a moment of your time.

We were pleased to be asked to cooperate in building this event. The many significant contributions of African Americans are always a pleasure for us to shine light on. And at the same time, we are able to shine a light on the very important relationship between the United States and the many nations of Africa.

President Obama recently met in Washington with the democratically elected heads of state of African nations and was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss how we can build on both the political progress, the economic progress, and address the security challenges that continue to confront Africa.  President Obama emphasized that the United States has been and will continue to be a stalwart partner with them in this process of democratization and development.

Today you will have had the opportunity to see the powerful work of American artist Joseph Holston from Color in Freedom and the work of the many African-American artists represented in the Smithsonian Museums slide show.

If you were able to attend the literary panel organized by the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, then you will have had the opportunity to be introduced to our visiting American author, who is also a fellow New Yorker, Eddy Harris, whose published works represent the African American experience in the south, in Harlem, along the Mississippi River, and even in some remote African villages. Thank you, Mr. Harris, for your willingness to join us here today.

Celebrating the International Year for People of African Descent is especially important for Americans, as you might imagine. African Americans make up the single largest racial minority in the United States, at nearly 40 million of our citizens, and the contributions of this segment of our society are notable and many– of course we see some here today in art and literature.

And we are happy to be cooperating with our colleagues from Brazil, and we thank them for taking the lead on this very important event.

When President Obama met with Brazilian President Rousseff earlier this year, he reminded us that the journeys of the United States of America and of Brazil began in similar ways and that both of our nations have evolved to become flourishing democracies. He reminded us that it is not just because we share a hemisphere, not just because we share a similar history, and not just because we share ties of commerce and culture, but because we share many enduring values and ideals that we are such formidable partners.

And so it is my pleasure to continue our cooperation here in Geneva. Thank you.