Nnamdi Azikiwe, by now the best know nationalist leader in Nigeria, addressed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) at its 50th anniversary celebration at the Polo Grounds, New York City, July 19, 1959. His speech appears below.
I am greatly indebted to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People for the invitation to speak on this occasion of the celebration of its fiftieth anniversary. For five decades, this organization has been in the vanguard of the struggle for human freedom in America. Its objective has been the attainment of equal rights for people of African descent and other peoples of colour who are citizens of this great bastion of democracy.
In the thoughts of Abraham Lincoln, this country was conceived in liberty of the individual and it was dedicated to the idea that democracy as a way of life can only be meaningful not only to its inhabitants but to the rest of the world if all facets of its society respect human dignity in the noble attempt to create equality of opportunity for all.
For 183 years, the people of the United States have been involved in a historic experiment to determine whether democracy can survive as an ideology which places a high premium on the value of the individual in a society which is heterogeneous. Throughout this period, this great country has been the cynosure of the world. Every little mistake in human relations has been magnified out of its proportions. Every error of judgement in the relations of the races has been critically analysed. And every act of injustice based on such extraneous factors as race, colour, creed or station in life has been subjected to the most severe strictures.
Such a negative attitude has not been due to any inveterate hatred of the United States per se (although we must admit that those with axes to grind cannot but make capital out of such slips), but the main reason is the universal respect which the world has for this country. Because of this high esteem, the outside world expects