Jimmy Carter photo

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Remarks at the Dedication of the Center's African Room.

April 24, 1977

Ambassador Ahoua, Ambassador Young, Ambassador Thayer, Air. Stevens, and distinguished guests, who have come here this afternoon to commemorate a great stride forward in mutual understanding and comprehension of peoples who have been bound together in history, sometimes in a very unfortunate way, but with an increasing awareness of the importance of our better friendship, communication, and understanding:

I know that all of you have in mind this afternoon what President John Kennedy contributed in our own country with his sensitivity and idealism about the individual rights of human beings in the struggle upward for equality in the United States. He was a shining light of dedication and high ideals. And as I have traveled around the world in different places, I've been amazed at first and increasingly gratified to know the great esteem with which John Kennedy is held in the hearts of people in many countries on Earth.

This afternoon we are opening up a room where tens of thousands of people will come to see and to experience the multifaceted character of the nations that comprise the great continent of Africa. I know that all of you sense the growing importance of the people who live in Africa as they have taken their place since the Second World War in an increasing way in the councils of world political affairs, economic growth, and a sense of quiet but sure strength and confidence.

As the President of the United States now, I have become increasingly aware of the threat to world peace if we don't acquire a sure comprehension of the hopes and the dreams, the frustrations and concerns of the people who live in Africa. And I believe that it is very important this afternoon for use to comprehend the significance of this growing awareness.

I have had a lot of good teachers in the last 3 months since I have been President, in learning about Africa. I am always interested in what Andy Young is going to say--[laughter]--to me, one of his best students. And I think Andy has brought for our country as Ambassador to the United Nations a very sure sense of many of the compatibilities between the upward movement of human beings who have previously been deprived in their growing status in our own country's society and all its facets, and the sure struggle upward for recognition and appreciation that exists among the people of Africa today.

Both movements are worthy, both movements are gratifying, both movements are exhilarating and inspiring, and both movements are sure of ultimate success.

And I am very grateful this afternoon to be part of the ceremony which will increasingly bind us together in a realization of the commonality of human beings, no matter what continent might be our home. And this African Room, I think, will be a great stride forward in that respect.

I want to express my thanks in closing to all those in the nations of Africa who wanted to signify their own capabilities and independence by financing this great step forward in cultural acquirement and friendship on their own; the fact that all the funds for financing this beautiful room have been raised in Africa is very good.

And I think this shows again the sense of equality and the sense of common dedication that has bound, does bind, and will bind our people ever closer together in the historical years that lie ahead for all of us.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 6:10 p.m. In his opening remarks, he referred to Timothe Ahoua, Ambassador to the United States from the Ivory Coast, Andrew J. Young, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, Robert H. Thayer, former U.S. Minister to Romania, and Roger L. Stevens, Chairman of the Kennedy Center's Board of Trustees.

Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Remarks at the Dedication of the Center's African Room. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243566

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