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04 June 2010

Ray Charles At Launch Of New Stamp Honoring Immigrants (1998)

On 5 January 1998 Ray Charles sang America The Beautiful on Ellis Island during an event where the INS introduced a new stamp honoring immigrants. Source materials: Conus Archive, ID 878. Watch outtake here.

From the New York Daily News:
Alvarene Molland has lived in New York City for over three decades. She owns her home and enjoys more personal freedom than she ever did in her native Jamaica.
But the Manhattan resident always felt there was something missing. She wasn't a U.S. citizen.
Yesterday, Molland "finally became a real American," she said, joining 42 others who took the citizenship oath at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum as the U.S. Postal Service unveiled a new stamp honoring immigrants.
"I feel honored and privileged to be here," said Molland, 63, after the ceremony in the museum's Great Hall, the gateway for more than 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1954. "It feels like becoming part of history."
That's because this was no every-day government ceremony.
The newcomers, from 25 nations ranging from Antigua and China to Macedonia and the United Kingdom, swayed as R&B legend Darlene Love belted out the National Anthem.
They listened raptly as English-born stage and screen star Lynn Redgrave told how she "fell in love with New York" upon her arrival in 1966 and became a citizen just days ago in California.
And they whooped and clapped in a standing ovation after Ray Charles soared through his world-renowned version of America The Beautiful, accompanying himself on the piano.
The AP Archive (also in the National Archive) has a 5-minute tape titled New Stamp Unveiled Commemorating Immigrants. The database description states that "After taking their oaths, the new U.S. citizens were serenaded by singer Ray Charles" and that his singing "was awesome".

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