Ambassador Palmer’s Remarks – As Prepared
Wreath Laying at the W.E.B. Du Bois Center
August 27, 2023, 4:00 p.m.
As we gather in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the death of W.E.B. DuBois (dew-BOYSS), I am reminded of his prescient words in his autobiography: “You are not and yet you are: your thoughts, your deeds, above all your dreams still live.” Indeed the thoughts, deeds, and dreams of this great figure shared by the United States and Ghana do live on. They must live on as we still have much work to do to realize his vision of equal rights and true freedom for African Americans.
I am proud to participate in this event with the American scholars, DuBois Foundation leaders, and DuBois family members who joined the symposium this weekend. Together with your counterparts here in Ghana, there are no better people to preserve DuBois’ remarkable legacy and achieve the promise of justice for the African and American peoples.
The United States is strongest when we face our weaknesses. For our entire history, we have struggled to reconcile a “double-consciousness” – as DuBois named it – of African Americans who came to the land of freedom in chains, whose history was written by their captors, whose fight for equality has been one of the most successful in history yet remains unfinished.
It was Ghana who gave DuBois the means and the opportunity to meld these two consciousnesses through the Encyclopedia Africana. No longer would the African American be “always looking at oneself through the eyes of others.” It was Ghana that welcomed a great man whose own country had turned its back on him.
DuBois’ many writings challenge America to look upon itself with full knowledge of the history of racial strife and inequality. His words and actions have inspired generations of human rights activists. But inspiration is only the beginning. The work continues both in the United States and across Africa to achieve the promise of unity and the human, civil, and economic rights that accompany strong democracy accountable to the will of the people.
Ghana and the United States do not just share W.E.B. DuBois. We share democratic ideals of freedom and equality for our peoples. We share constitutions written to enshrine and protect the rights of our peoples to choose their own governments. We, in fact, share his belief that we all can and must do better.