Ethiopia, one of the only two independent African nations at the time, was invaded on October 3,1935 by Facist Italy under Benito Mussolini. The Italians, seeking revenge for their prior
humiliating loss to Ethiopia over 40 years earlier, committed countless atrocities on the independent African state. Poisonous gas, aerial bomabrdment, flame throwers and
concentration camps were all employed against the ill equipped Ethiopian people.
Black outrage throughout the world was unified. The League of Nations,
forerunner to the UN, was criticized sharply for supplying weapons to Italy and
not to Ethiopia. Such actions confirmed Black suspicion that the war was of racial
motivation and sought to extinguish the last light of African power in the world.
From Kingston to Johannesburg, from Detroit to Ghana, form Port-of-Spain to
Paris, Black men and women offered to go fight in defense of Ethiopia. And as
battles raged between Ethiopians and Italians in Africa, battles raged between
Blacks and Italians in the streets of New York. In South Africa, Black workers
began a lengthy march up the continent to assist their African brothers in Ethiopia.
Elsewhere, ex-service men discarded their European and American citizenships to
bring their military expertise to the defense of Ethiopia. The exiled Ethiopian
Emperor Haile Selassie became a near legendary figure to many. Not before or
ever since was such a strong sense of Pan-Africanism seen throughout the world.
And though Italy succeeded in defeating the African nation, Blacks everywhere
would continue the struggle until Ethiopia was free.