December 09, 2018

“Baseball been berry, berry good to me!” – the famous SNL catchphrase of Garrett Morris as Chico Escuela…

If you’re old enough to have been watching Saturday Night Live in the late Seventies you might have been watching Episode 5 of Season 4 when it first aired on November 11, 1978. (I am and I was.)

Buck Henry was the host. The Grateful Dead were the musical guests. And, there were several classic skits — including one at the end that introduced what would become a famous TV catchphrase.

The sketch takes place at a meeting of the St. Mickey’s Knights of Columbus.

After dealing with a few business items, the organization’s leader, played by SNL cast member John Belushi, announces that the club would have a special guest speaker that night.

Dan Aykroyd, playing the Knights’ treasurer, notes that the group had to go into debt to pay the speaker’s steep $900 fee.

Belushi then introduces this special guest: “the immortal” Chico Escuela, a former all-star baseball player for the Chicago Cubs who came to the US from the Dominican Republic.

After being introduced, Chico — portrayed by SNL cast member Garrett Morris — gets up, stands at the podium and says in a thick Hispanic accent:

“Thank you berry much. Baseball been berry, berry good to me. Thank you. God bless you. Gracias!”

Then he sits down.

Astonished by the brevity of this $900 “speech,” Belushi’s character asks: “Is that it Chico?”

Chico thinks about it a second, gets up again and adds: “Keep you eye...keep you eyes...on de ball.”

After which, he sits down again.

Belushi says sardonically: “Thank you, Chico. You’ve been an inspiration to all of us.”

Three weeks later, during the December 9, 1978 episode of SNL, Morris’s Chico made a second appearance and repeated his line “Baseball been berry, berry good to me!” several times — making this the night on which it gained official catchphrase status. 

In that episode (Season 4, Episode 8), the host was Monty Python star Eric idle. Kate Bush was the musical guest. Dan Aykroyd performed the insanely funny skit in which he plays a frantic Julia Child, who bleeds to death after cutting her finger. And, Don Novello showed up as Father Guido Sarducci.

Chico was in the Weekend Update segment with Jane Curtin, who announced that he had been hired as the Weekend Update sports commentator. After being introduced by Jane (this time as a former New York Mets ballplayer), Chico says:

“Thank you. Thank you, berry, berry much. Baseball been berry, berry good to me. Thank you, Hane.

[A photo of major league player Pete Rose, who had recently signed a four year, 3.2 million dollar deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, appears behind Chico.]

Pete-ee Rose...Baseball been berry, berry good to Pete Rose. Three-point-two-million-dollar para Pete Rose. Charlie Hustle, you bet. Thank you berry, berry much.

In foot-ball... I don’t know football. In Dominican Republic, football is — how you say, Hane? Um, Oh! Soccer! Your football... I don’t know.

In National Hockey League... I don’t know hockey.

In baseball… Baseball been berry, berry good to me! Thank you berry much. Thank you. Thank you berry much. Hane? Thank you, Hane.”

Hearing Chico’s fact-challenged report, Jane responds sarcastically: “Great job, Chico. I’m glad that we haven’t hired just another stupid ex-jock sportscaster.”

Morris went on to appear as Chico Escuela eight more times before leaving the Saturday Night Live cast in the summer of 1980.

Each time, he repeated “Baseball been berry, berry good to me!” (sometimes written as “Beisbol been bery, bery good to me!” and in various other ways). It remains one of the most famous of the many memorable catchphrases created by SNL.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on my Famous Quotations Facebook page or send me an email.

Related viewing and reading (and other stuff)…

November 21, 2018

“Coffee, Tea or Me?” – the catchphrase popularized by a hoax based on a joke...

Back in the 1960s, when air travel was more pleasant and our culture was less politically correct, airline stewardesses were hot – at least in terms of their popular image.

Most stewardesses were young and single. In the media, they were often portrayed as both desirable and attainable – as women who liked to fool around with pilots, passengers and lucky local citizens at stops along their routes.

The airlines tried to cash in on and promote this image in the mid-Sixties with ads that featured beautiful stewardesses and taglines like “I’m Cheryl. Fly Me.”

Then, on November 21, 1967, the Bantam paperback edition of the book Coffee, Tea or Me? was published, about a month after the hardcover edition had been released by Bartholomew House.

Subtitled The Uninhibited Memoirs of Two Airline Stewardesses, this widely-distributed, wildly successful paperback further popularized the stereotypical image of fun-loving, promiscuous stewardesses.

It also made the sexually provocative phrase “Coffee, Tea or Me?” a familiar saying.

The book was portrayed as a humorous but fact-based memoir co-written by two stewardesses named Rachel Jones and Trudy Baker.

When it was published, two young women using those names went on a media tour to promote it.

Soon, Coffee, Tea or Me? became a national best seller, then an international best seller. 

Three sequels were published and credited to Rachel and Trudy.

In 1973, Coffee, Tea or Me? was even made into a TV movie starring Karen Valentine and Louise Lasser.

Decades later, it was revealed that the real author of the Coffee, Tea or Me? books was Donald Bain.

Bain was working as a public relations man for American Airlines when he wrote Coffee, Tea or Me?  

Thanks to its success, he went on to become a prolific full-time novelist and ghostwriter who has since penned dozens of popular books (including many of the Murder She Wrote novels).

“Trudy Baker” and “Rachel Jones” never existed.

The women who went on the book tour were two actual Eastern Airlines stewardesses, but they were hired by the publisher’s publicity agent to pose as Trudy and Rachel.

It was a supremely well-executed hoax that generated a ton of money for Bain and a memorable phrase that’s still used and lampooned today.

In the introduction to later reprints of the book, Bain wrote that the title Coffee, Tea or Me? came to him halfway through writing it after he heard someone recite an old airline joke that used the phrase.

If you’re old enough, you might remember the joke: A stewardess enters the cockpit of a commercial airplane and asks the pilot, “Coffee, tea or me?” The pilot says, “Whichever is easier to make.”

Bain says in his intro:

"Little did I know in 1967 that the book I was writing with a title lifted from a lame old joke would go on, along with its three sequels, to sell more than five million copies, be translated into a dozen languages, cause anxious mothers to forbid their daughters from becoming stewardesses, spawn airline protest groups, have its title inducted into the public vocabulary and be republished thirty-six years later, branding me the oldest, tallest, bearded airline stewardess."

Speaking of lame jokes, there’s a funny coincidence about the illustrations used on the covers and interior pages of the Coffee, Tea or Me? series. They were drawn by Bill Wenzel, one of the greatest of all adult cartoon artists.

Cartoons featuring Wenzel’s bosomy, airheaded babes, typically accompanied by classically lame and sexist captions, appeared in countless men’s girlie and humor magazines from the late 1940s into the early 1980s. He also did many paperback covers.

You can read more about Wenzel in the excellent book about him that was published in 2000 and in the authoritative posts done about him by vintage paperback and magazine maven Lynn Munroe. You can also see scores of his cartoons in this Google image search.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on my Famous Quotations Facebook page or send me an email.

Related reading…

November 16, 2018

“To crush your enemies...”

For readers of this website who may not know about my other quotation site,, here’s a post that will give you an idea of what you’ll find there. Basically, each post on features background information on a famous quotation followed by a set of quotes that are interesting or humorous uses, variations and take-offs on the main quotation. It’s easier to show you what that means than explain it, so below is an example based on a famous movie quote. If you like this post, click here to see more. If want to subscribe to future posts, click on one of the subscription options at the top of the right sidebar. Cheers! 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Conan The Barbarian, What is best in life quote QC wm


Barbarian General (actor Akio Mitamura): “Conan, what is best in life?”
Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger): “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!”

       From the film Conan the Barbarian (released in the US on May 14, 1982)
       Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “crush your enemies” line in Conan the Barbarian became the first of his many famous movie quotations as an actor. It’s also the first line he speaks in the film after a full twenty minutes of backstory recounting how Conan was captured as a boy by brutal barbarian raiders, used as a slave, then trained to be a vicious pit fighter and a warrior for his captors. Here’s the dialog from that scene (which you can watch on YouTube):             
         Barbarian General: “We won again. This is good! But what is best in life?”
         Warrior: “The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, wind in your hair!”
         General: “Wrong! Conan, what is best in life?”
         Conan (Arnold): “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!”
         Barbarian General: “That is good.”

      Conan’s last seven words are sometimes quoted as “to hear the lamentation of the women,” because Arnold’s Austrian accent makes the word “their” sound like “deh.” But I’m pretty sure it’s “their women” given the inspiration for the movie quote.
      John Milius, who directed Conan the Barbarian and co-wrote the screenplay with Oliver Stone, didn’t create Arnold’s famed catchphrase from whole cloth. It’s not in the Conan stories written by the creator of the character, Robert Howard. But it’s based on a passage in a book by one of Howard’s favorite writers, Harold Lamb.             
       In Lamb’s classic 1927 biography, Genghis Kahn: the Emperor of All Men, he gives his version of a legendary quotation by the great conqueror at the end of Chapter 11. Lamb wrote:             
          One day in the pavilion at Karakorum he asked an officer of the Mongol guard what, in all the world, could bring the greatest happiness.             
          “The open steppe, a clear day, and a swift horse under you,” responded the officer after a little thought, “and a falcon on your wrist to start up hares.”             
          “Nay,” responded the Khan, “to crush your enemies, to see them fall at your feet—to take their horses and goods and hear the lamentation of their women. That is best.”

       The version of Khan’s words crafted by Milius (and/or Stone) for Conan the Barbarian became a popular catchphrase that has since been cited and adapted many times. Some of my favorite examples are below...

Conan cartoon, Peter Kuper, New Yorker


“I said, ‘Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women,’ but the media took that totally out of context.”
       Peter Kuper
       American illustrator and cartoonist               
       His caption for a cartoon spoofing Conan and the frequent lament of politicians, published in The New Yorker, January 2017

Portrait of Cohen the Barbarian by Paul Kidby


[Nomad]: “What is it that a man may call the greatest things in life?”
[Cohen the Barbarian] “Hot water, good dentishtry and shoft lavatory paper.”
       From the Discworld novel The Light Fantastic (1986) by Terry Pratchett            
       This quote by the Cohen character (aka Ghenghiz Cohen) is a is a favorite of Discworld fans. Cohen is an aging, toothless barbarian who speaks with a lisp when he’s not wearing the special dentures he has made from the diamond teeth of the troll Old Grandad.
       (Portrait of Cohen with his diamond dentures by Paul Kidby.)

John Ortberg


“The heroic figure in Conan the Barbarian was actually paraphrasing Genghis Khan when he gave his famous answer to the question ‘What is best in life?'... An alternative idea came from Galilee: What is best in life is to love your enemies and see them reconciled to you.”
       John Ortberg
       Evangelical Christian author, speaker, and senior pastor of the ECO Presbyterian Menlo Church in Menlo Park, California
       In his book Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus (2012)

Internet troll Conan meme


       An internet meme seen on            

Boo Cocky Robot Chicken Conan


[Conan singing]: “What is best in life? That is hard to say, for each man is unique in his own way.
As a boy, I liked gumdrops and puppies, sailboats and frogs, and my best friend little Ricky Maebius!
But when I became a young man, what was best in life began to change just like my body.
I liked pretty Stacy Lyon with her long blonde hair and eyes that were blue as the ocean!
But now that I’m grown, my thoughts have changed, and it’s pretty clear to me.
The answer to the question, ‘What is best in life?’ is plain enough for all to see.
Crush your enemies! Crush your enemies! And see them driven before you!
Crush your enemies! Crush your enemies! And see them driven before you!
And hear the lamentations of the women!”

       A hilarious parody song sung by an animated Conan action figure in the “Boo Cocky” episode of the Comedy Channel’s “Adult Swim” cartoon series Robot Chicken (Season 3, Episode 16; first aired September 7, 2008)

Crush my enemies Christmas t-shirt


“All I want for Christmas is

       Slogan printed on t-shirts and other clothes sold by            

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on my Famous Quotations Facebook page or send me an email.

Related reading, viewing, and stuff…

November 08, 2018

“O Liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name!”

In 1781, a young French woman named Marie-Jeanne Philippon married wealthy businessman Jean-Marie Roland, thus becoming known as Madame Roland.

Madame Roland and her husband were early supporters of the democratic goals of the French Revolution

They became active leaders of the progressive but moderate pro-democracy party called the Girondists.

The Girondists supported changing France’s political system from an absolute monarchy to a more democratic constitutional monarchy, like England’s.

Unfortunately for the Rolands — and for French King Louis XVI and many other French citizens — a much more extreme group took control of France a few years after the storming of the Bastille.

They were called the Jacobins and were responsible for the infamous “Reign of Terror.” 

During that bloody period in 1793 and 1794, Maximilien Robespierre and other Jacobin leaders imprisoned and executed tens of thousands of French citizens.

The victims included members of aristocratic families who had benefited from the previous monarchical system, open or suspected supporters of Louis XVI, and advocates of any future monarchical system.

Others were killed simply because top Jacobins viewed them as political rivals or disliked them.

When the Rolands publicly criticized the worst excesses of the Reign of Terror, the Jacobins responded by ordering their arrest for “treason.”

Madame Roland was arrested and imprisoned in Paris in the spring of 1793.

Her husband Jean-Marie was traveling at the time.

When he heard his of wife’s imprisonment, he went into hiding.

On November 8, 1793, after months in prison, Madame Roland was sent to the guillotine, a few weeks after Marie Antoinette met the same fate.

On the way to her execution, Madame Roland passed a large statue of the Goddess Liberty that her former political comrades had erected nearby (the same goddess portrayed by the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor).

According to historical accounts of the day, when Madame Roland saw the statue she looked at it sadly and made a remark that’s included in many books of famous quotations:

“O Liberté, que de crimes on commet en ton nom!” (“O Liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name!”)

Shortly after saying these words, Madame Roland was beheaded.

After Jean-Marie Roland heard of his wife’s death, he wrote a suicide note that said: “From the moment when I learned that they had murdered my wife, I would no longer remain in a world stained with enemies.”

He attached the note to his chest.

Then he ran his cane-sword through his heart, becoming another victim of the Reign of Terror.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Email me or Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading…

October 29, 2018

The Timothy Leary political campaign slogan that became a famous Beatles song…

The best-known slogan coined by Sixties counterculture celebrity Timothy Leary is the one he created to promote the use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs: “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”

He first began popularizing this saying in his public lectures and comments around 1966 and used it as the title of a spoken word album released that year.

In 1969, Leary came up with another slogan that was eventually made famous, though not by him.

Leary seems to have figured that if a Hollywood celebrity like Ronald Reagan could run for Governor and get elected, maybe the times were right for a Hippie celebrity to take a shot at it.

Besides, he loved publicity.

So, he threw his mushroom cap into the ring and announced that he planned to run against Reagan in the 1970 gubernatorial election.

Leary came up with the tongue-in-cheek campaign slogan, “Come together, join the party.”

In June of 1969, while visiting John Lennon and Yoko Ono at their legendary Montreal “Bed-In,” Leary asked Lennon to write a campaign song to go with his slogan.

Lennon agreed. And, during the Montreal Bed-In days, in addition to writing and recording “Give Peace a Chance,” Lennon wrote an initial version of the song “Come Together.”

Although the melody was basically like the Beatles song we know today, the original chorus was different.

It went: “Come together, right now. / Don’t come tomorrow. / Don’t come alone.”

Lennon made a demo tape of the campaign song for Leary. Leary gave copies to local underground radio stations in California and the song got some limited airplay.

Shortly thereafter, Leary’s campaign was derailed by his mounting legal troubles from a past marijuana bust, and he was forced to, er, drop out of the Governor’s race. (Lucky for Ronnie, eh?)

But Lennon liked the song and took it to his bandmates, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, when the Beatles were recording their Abbey Road album.

Together, they reworked it a bit and changed the lyrics to those all true Beatles fans are familiar with:

“Here come old flattop, he come groovin’ up slowly
He got ju-ju eyeballs, he one holy roller
He got hair down to his knees
Got to be a joker, he just do what he please
He wear no shoeshine, he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger, he shoot Coca-Cola
He say, I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together, right now, over me.”

The first line of the “Come Together” was Lennon’s homage to a similar line from Chuck Berry’s classic 1956 rock ‘n’ roll song “You Can’t Catch Me.” 

Berry’s song was inspired by an informal car race he once had with some young crew-cut haired dude on the New Jersey Turnpike, who he immortalized with the words: “Up come a flattop, he was movin' up with me.”

Lennon’s variation on that and the chorus of his song — “Come together, right now, over me” — both became well-known pop culture quotations.

“Come Together” was released as a single in the U.S. on October 6, 1970 and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart on November 29, 1969 — which is how, by a trippy route, Tim Leary’s gubernatorial campaign slogan became the subject of posts for those dates on

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on my Famous Quotations Facebook page or send me an email.

Related reading, viewing and listening…


October 07, 2018

The stirring words of Haile Selassie that Bob Marley used for the song “War”…

Important Utterances of H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie
On October 4, 1963, Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, gave a speech to the United Nations General Assembly that includes a famous quotation you almost surely know if you’re a fan of the late, great Reggae musician Bob Marley.

Selassie’s speech provided the basis for one of Marley’s most popular songs, titled “War.”

It’s included on the classic Bob Marley & the Wailers album, Rastaman Vibration, released by Island Records on April 30, 1976.

Here’s are key words from the speech that Bob Marley incorporated into the lyrics of his song and made familiar to millions of people:

     “Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned...Until there are no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation...Until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes...Until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race…Until that day, the dream of lasting peace...will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.”

Until the day when racism no longer exists, Marley sings at the end of the verses, there will be “War…Me say war.”

In 1963 and 1976, the word war literally meant armed rebellions by oppressed black people in countries like South Africa, Angola and Mozambique. But in my own mind, and I think in the minds of other Marley fans, it has also taken on a more symbolic meaning; a word that can also be used describe nonviolent protests and actions against injustice and inequality.

As a fan of Bob Marley since the late ‘70s, I’ve listened to “War” many times. It still awes and inspires me to hear Bob and the Wailers sing it or see them perform it in videos on YouTube.

However, while I am no expert on “H.I.M.” (His Imperial Majesty) Haile Selassie, I have read enough to know that his record as Emperor of Ethiopia includes some things that can seem at odds with the concept of equal rights and justice.

Selassie was born in 1892 into Ethiopia’s royal family, which practiced the Ethiopian Orthodox version of Christianity and traced the family’s origins back to King Solomon of Israel and Makeda, Queen of Sheba.

His birth name was Tafari Mkonnen. As a young nobleman he was called “Ras Tafari” – the title “Ras” roughly translating as “Duke” in English.

This became the inspiration for the name of the Rastafari movement created in 1933 by Jamaican preacher Leonard Percival Howell, whose teachings combined Pan Africanism and Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity with the use of the “sacred herb” — ganja.

Howell believed that Tafari was the “Black Messiah,” an incarnation of God on Earth, the “Dread Lion” of Judah, King of Kings, predicted by Biblical prophecy. To Howell and his followers, Tafari’s coronation as Emperor was the realization of that prophecy.

Tafari ascended to the throne in 1930, though not peaceably. He had to use his family’s army to defeat that of a rival royal family at the Battle of Anchem.

Once in control of the throne, he took the name Haile Selassie, meaning “Power of the Trinity.”

Although it’s hard to think of any absolute monarchy as a bastion of freedom, he did take steps in what most people would think of as a positive direction. For example, he introduced Ethiopia’s first written constitution in 1931. It ensured some basic rights for most Ethiopian citizens and created a bicameral legislature.

Selassie portrayed it as a transitional stage to democracy. However, it kept most real political power in the hands of the Emperor and Ethiopia’s major landowning families and did not lead to the abolition of slavery in the country. This was not a minor human rights issue, given that Ethiopia had an estimated two million slaves — in this case, black people kept as “vassals” by wealthy black people — out of a population of about eleven million.

Nonetheless, the reforms Selassie pursued and his efforts to modernize Ethiopia’s infrastructure and encourage education, made him seem like a relatively enlightened and progressive African leader to observers in Western countries and the Caribbean. And, his fame increased in the years leading up to Word War II.

During Selassie’s youth, Italy controlled the area north of Ethiopia called Eritrea. In 1896, Italy attempted to expand its control southward. This led to the Battle of Adwa, in which Ethiopia’s army defeated Italy’s colonial forces.

In 1935, Italy’s Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, ally of Nazi Germany, had his modern army invade Ethiopia. This time the Italians prevailed.

Haile Selassie fled to England. Several months later, on June 20, 1936, he addressed the League of Nations, forerunner of the United Nations. In his speech, Selassie asked Westerns nations and other League members to help Ethiopia overthrow its Italian invaders. He warned, prophetically, “It is us today, it will be you tomorrow.”

Bob Marley & the Wailers singing 'War' liveThe speech made Selassie an even bigger celebrity. TIME magazine named him “Man of the Year” and featured him on the cover of the January 6, 1936 issue.

But neither the League of Nations nor its members helped Ethiopia fight Italy — until Selassie’s prediction came true and Western democracies were battling Nazi Germany and Italy themselves during World War II.

In 1941, British forces liberated Ethiopia. Selassie returned to the throne. To his credit, one of his first actions upon regaining power was to outlaw slavery.

After World War II, he was a leader in efforts to help African countries transition to independence from European colonial rule.

Toward that end, Selassie brought representatives of 32 African governments together in 1963 to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

At the initial OAU Conference held in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa in May 1963, the group’s members pledged to increase cooperation among African states to improve the lives of people throughout Africa and eliminate the last bastions of colonialism in South Africa, Angola and Mozambique.

Selassie was also a leading promoter of Pan Africanism, which fostered a sense of unity and pride among black people throughout the world whose ancestors were taken from Africa as slaves.    

For these and other reasons, from the ‘30s to the ‘70s Selassie was increasingly viewed as a towering hero in Africa and the Caribbean islands.

He was particularly popular in Jamaica among members of the Rastafarian movement, which had grown considerably in the 1960s.

Selassie was aware of the Rastafarians. But he didn’t visit Jamaica until April 21, 1966.

When he landed at the Kingston airport that day, he was surprised to find an estimated one hundred thousand Rastafarians from throughout the country had gathered in Kingston to see him.

One of them was Alpharita “Rita” Marley, who had married Bob two months previously.

Rita was into Rastafarianism before Bob. But he, too, became a knowledgeable and devoted Rastafarian, eventually the most famous Rasta on the planet. Among the things he read about Haile Selassie that inspired him was the eloquent speech the Emperor gave to the United Nations on October 4, 1963, five months after the OAU’s Addis Ababa Conference.

In that remarkable speech, Selassie urged the United Nations and its members to work together to stop the nuclear arms race and take a stand against the apartheid government in South Africa and racism in general.

Selassie chose to give the speech in his native language, Amharic.

It was later translated into English by the Imperial Ethiopian Ministry of Information, and published in the 1972 book Important Utterances Of H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I, a seminal source for Rastafarians.

Bob Marley lyrics to the song WAR In English, the key part of Selassie’s speech that inspired Bob Marley’s song “War” is as follows.

“On the question of racial discrimination, the Addis Ababa Conference taught, to those who will learn, this further lesson:    
     that until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned;    
     that until there are no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation;    
     that until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes;    
     that until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race;    
     that until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.    
     And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed;    
     until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good will;    
     until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven;    
     until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.”

Those words, turned into lyrics and set to music by Marley, are incredibly eloquent and stirring.

Given the events that occurred in Ethiopia between 1963 and Selassie’s death in 1975, they are also somewhat ironic.

During his final decade as Emperor, human rights groups criticized Selassie’s regime for suppressing civil liberties and torturing political prisoners.

His army was charged with committing shocking atrocities against rebels who wanted independence for Eritrea, which Selassie had absorbed into Ethiopia after World War II with the approval of the Western Allies and United Nations — but against the will of most people living there.

Those atrocities reportedly included mass slaughters of civilians during late ‘60s and early ‘70s, later described as an attempt at the “ethnic cleansing” of the Muslim Harari people of Eritrea.

In 1974, a famine in Ethiopia killed tens of thousands of people. Skyrocketing inflation led to riots.

That September, Selassie was overthrown and imprisoned by a Soviet-backed group of Marxists called the Derg.

The following year, on August 28, 1975, the Ethiopian state media reported that Haile Selassie had died of “respiratory failure” at age 83 following complications from a prostate operation. His followers believed he had been murdered.

The Derg imposed a brutal Communist dictatorship on Ethiopia that was far worse than Selassie’s regime. When they were ousted by an armed revolt in 1991, Selassie’s bones were found on the palace grounds. For the next nine years they were kept in a coffin in a local church.

One November 5, 2000, the Ethiopian Orthodox church held an imperial-style funeral for Selassie. One of the people who attended was Rita Marley.

Her husband Bob, the Rasta who made Selassie’s UN speech a musical anthem, had died of cancer in 1981.

In the intervening years Rita and Bob’s sons and daughters mastered the music business in ways Bob probably never dreamed of and turned his musical legacy into a worldwide multi-faceted business empire.

One part of that legacy is the song “War,” which has helped make millions of people who know little or nothing about Haile Selassie familiar with his most famous quotation.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    

Comments? Corrections? Post them on my Famous Quotations Facebook page or send me an email.

Related listening, reading and viewing…

Copyrights, Disclaimers & Privacy Policy

Copyright © Subtropic Productions LLC

All original text written for the This Day in Quotes quotations blog is copyrighted by the Subtropic Productions LLC and may not be used without permission, except for short "fair use" excerpts or quotes which, if used, must be attributed to and, if online, must include a link to

To the best of our knowledge, the non-original content posted here is used in a way that is allowed under the fair use doctrine. If you own the copyright to something posted here and believe we may have violated fair use standards, please let us know.

Subtropic Productions LLC and is committed to protecting your privacy. For more details, read this blog's full Privacy Policy.