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Many of the Rastafari people claim that Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia is godly This article explains how the idea of a Black Messiah was culturally produced in the context of Ethiopianist ideology. It sketches the various expressions of Ethiopianism and some of its leading exponents in the United States, Jamaica, and Central and South Africa in order to show why the notion of a Black and African Messiah made sense to a number of Jamaicans. Ethiopianists combined race, scripture, historical experience, religiosity, and social criticism in a way that made possible the formulation of a durable and compelling Black Messiah. The Ethiopianist formulations circulating through Kingston, Jamaica, during the 1920s provided the cultural resources for a new identification—Rastafari—as a way of being and being recognized in the world.