yea_ro_african_de_thumbnailIn a momentous address to the international community, Hillary Clinton announced on behalf of the United Nations and the Organization of American States that 2011 is the International Year for People of African Descent:

The United Nations and the Organization of American States have named 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent. This is an opportunity for all of us around the globe to celebrate the diversity of our societies and to honor the contributions that our fellow citizens of African descent make every day to the economic, social and political fabrics of our communities.

In Africa, we see a rising generation of talented and tenacious young people working to build a new and better future for themselves and their countries. And all across the world on every continent, we see the dynamism and determination of people of African descent. This is also a time, especially here in the Americas, to remember our hemisphere’s shameful history of slavery and to reaffirm our commitment to eradicate racism and reduce inequality wherever it lingers.

We are working together with countries in the region and around the world to promote racial equality. But there is so much more to do. In the 21st century, diversity, openness, and tolerance are vital national assets. They strengthen our societies and expand our capacity to meet our shared challenges and to seize the new opportunities before us.

So as we mark this International Year for People of African Descent, I hope you’ll join us in  renewing our efforts to promote opportunity, understanding, and respect at home and all over the world. Thank you very much.

As the "Cradle of Civilization," there is not a moment in history where the vast African continent has been irrelevant. However, the negative images of the continent that are put forth by the media and the lack of coverage period have greatly influenced the impression that many have of it. In 2010, the FIFA World Cup served to transform such unpleasant images of South Africa and of the continent as a whole. And if you keep up with international economic news, you know that Africa has certainly been booming with foreign investment for the last few years. Furthermore, tourism has for a long time been an African economic staple with record numbers set in 2010 as, meanwhile, tourism to other continents dropped. Thus, on one hand, the acknowledgement of the role that Africa plays in global society is long overdue. On the other hand, due to recent media coverage, the declaration could not be more timely as it will serve to further boost the new positive image in which Africa is beginning to be portrayed. 

Importantly, the declaration is aimed at recognizing only Africans. It is an acknowledgement for all people of African descent, from Cairo, Timbuktu and Soweto, to Kingston, Paris and Shanghai. (Yes, there are blacks in China. See our article on this subject, by clicking here!) The message should encourage and inspire the achievements by people of color on any continent. With that said, let's come together to make 2011 a great year of accomplishment, cultural celebration, building and rebuilding, tolerance, and progess for people of African descent worldwide! To watch Hillary Clinton's entire video message, click here.