In the early months of 1959 US Senator from Ohio Frank J. Lausche and Congressman Michael Feighan had submitted the Joint Congressional Resolution 111 authorizing the United States President to issue the “Captive Nations ‘Week” Proclamation. That resolution condemned the aggressive Soviet policies that had caused the subjugation of many ‘captive’ nations to harsh communist regimes. Then Cleveland Councilman Ralph J. Perk responded to Senator Lausche’s and Congressman Feighan’s request for support by bringing together a bi-partisan coalition of ethnic organizations that contacted nationality leaders all over the country and urged them to work for passage of Resolution 111. It took place on July 17, 1959 and was then signed by President Eisenhower.
The Resolution encouraged annual Presidential Proclamations focused on the plight of the captive nations with suggested appropriate ceremonies to be held every third week in July. The first such event, sponsored by the group that was eventually become the American Nationalities Movement in 1964, was held in July 1959 on the steps of the Cleveland Museum of Art with about 300 persons in attendance. Each succeeding year, with Ralph J. Perk’s leadership, the Nationalities Movement has observed the “Captive Nations Week” with activities expressing strong support and encouragement for the captive nations’ unshakable aspirations for freedom from communism. The “Captive Nations” celebration in 1967 brought together some 25,000 members that filled up Public Square with colorful American and nationalities’ flags (per Plain Dealer’s report).
Incorporated by the State of Ohio as a non-profit organization on October 9, 1968, the Movement’s annual events in Cleveland were also featured in the broadcasts of “Radio Free Europe”, the “Voice of America” and “Radio Marti” and thus extended encouragement to the freedom-seeking people of the captive nations that, at last became free with the demise of the most communist regimes.
In 1990, the American Nationalities Movement held the first “freedom Celebration” and awarded “freedom” medals to its steadfast supporters including one to President George H. W. Bush.
The Nationalities Movement’s Articles of Incorporation list among its goals:
To unite all nationalities for a common understanding of our responsibilities as citizens of the United States;
To overcome the differences of the past, and to create a unified image of all nationalities working for a common cause;
To protect our freedom and to work for the freedom and self-determination for all the people of all captive nations of the world.
Despite all the efforts to liberate humanity there still are tyrants and dictators holding people in captivity. Thus, there is still work to do and the American Nationalities Movement reconfirms its dedication to Freedom for all people.