I hope you are enjoying OD’s unique celebration of Black History Month 2012.
We have assumed responsibility in the blogosphere this year of commemorating this great occasion by drawing the attention of White school children to the great accomplishments of black people throughout history.
As we have already seen, a DNA test has recently proven that King Tut was of European ancestry, but Emperor Bokassa I’s coronation in the Central African Empire and Le Vieux’s $300 million dollar replica of St. Peter’s Basilica in the African bush more than makes up for the loss of King Tut and Ancient Egypt to Caucasians.
The time has come to draw your attention to what is arguably the greatest accomplishment in African-American history … the creation of the great black homeland in West Africa, the Republic of Liberia, which means “Land of the Free.”
In the years before the War Between the States, which resulted in the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment in the United States, White Americans were divided over the best way to end the domestic institution of African servitude.
The “anti-slavery movement” colonized the entire political spectrum from abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison on the Left who advocated the immediate abolition of slavery on moral and religious grounds to gradualists and colonizationists like John Randolph and Henry Clay on the Right who advocated the gradual elimination of slavery and the removal of free blacks to a colony in West Africa.
The American Colonization Society was founded in 1816 to facilitate the repatriation of African-Americans to the Dark Continent. The U.S. Congress appropriated $100,000 for this unusual philanthropic alliance of Quakers, Southern slaveholders, and free blacks to acquire a 36 mile long strip of land on the coast of West Africa in 1821. This settlement was renamed “Liberia” in 1824.
Over the course of the next 23 years, Liberia erected a capital named Monrovia in honor of President James Monroe, a prominent supporter of the colonization movement. Liberia also expanded in size as four other American colonies were absorbed into the emerging black homeland.
With the assistance of Northern and Southern state legislatures and the support of the U.S. federal government, around ten thousand African-Americans emigrated to Liberia between 1821 and 1867. In 1847, the colony was persuaded by the ACS to declare its independence and assume its separate and equal station among the great powers of the earth.
For 133 years (1847 to 1980), these “Americo-Liberians” ruled Liberia through the “True Whig Party” (organized in 1869) which lorded over the 95 percent of the Liberian population that belonged to the 16 indigenous African tribes.
The Americo-Liberians created a replica of the U.S. government complete with their own Star Spangled Banner, President, Vice President, Senate, House of Representatives, and Supreme Court. They even created their own (black) version of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution:
“We the people of the Republic of Liberia were originally the inhabitants of the United States of North America.
In some parts of that country, we were debarred by law from all the rights and privileges of men–in other parts, public senti ment, more powerful than law, frowned us down.
We were everywhere shut out from all civil office.
We were excluded from all participation in the government.
We were taxed without our consent.
We were compelled to contribute to the resources of a country, which gave us no protection.
We were made a separate and distinct class, and against us every avenue to improvement was effectually closed. Strangers from all lands of a color different from ours, were preferred before us.
We uttered our complaints, but they were unattended to, or only met by alleging the peculiar institutions of the country.
All hope of a favorable change in our country was thus wholly extinguished in our bosoms, and we looked with anxiety abroad for some asylum from the deep degradation.
The Western coast of Africa was the place selected by Amer ican benevolence and philanthropy, for our future home. Removed beyond those influences which depressed us in our native land, it was hoped we would be enabled to enjoy those rights and privileges, and exercise and improve those faculties, which the God of nature has given us in common with the rest of mankind.
Under the auspices of the American Colonization Society, we established ourselves here, on land acquired by purchase from the Lords of the soil. . .
Liberia is not the offspring of grasping ambition, nor the tool of avaricious speculation.
No desire for territorial aggrandizement brought us to these shores; nor do we believe so sordid a motive entered into the high considerations of those who aided us in providing this asylum.
Liberia is an asylum from the most grinding oppression. In coming to the shores of Africa, we indulged the pleasing hope that we would be permitted to exercise and improve those faculties, which impart to man his dignity–to nourish in our hearts the flame of honorable ambition, to cherish and indulge those aspirations, which a beneficent Creator had implanted in every human heart, and to evince to all who despise, ridicule and oppress our race, that we possess with them a common nature, are with them susceptible of equal refinement, and capable of equal advancement in all that adorns and dignifies man.
We were animated with the hope, that here we should be at liberty to train up our children in the way they should go–to inspire them with the love of an honorable fame, to kindle within them, the flame of a lofty philanthropy, and to form strong within them, the principles of humanity, virtue and religion.”
The Liberians were set free and cast ashore on the coast of West Africa to prove to the world – especially to the white supremacists of the United States – that they were “susceptible of equal refinement” and “capable of equal advancement in all that adorns and dignifies man.”
Unlike their counterparts in the United States, these African-Americans were free to realize their full potential and human dignity without the obstacles of slavery, segregation, racism, white privilege and white supremacy set in their path.
Protected by the U.S. Navy from predatory European imperialists, Liberia alone escaped the fate of other African nations which were swallowed up by rival European empires in the “Scramble for Africa” in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
How did the world’s second great experiment (Haiti being the first) in black freedom and equality work out in practice?
The Americo-Liberians established themselves as a black aristocracy that ruled with absolute power over Liberia. They emulated the planter class of the American South by wearing top hats and morning coats to mark their social status. They built Antebellum-style homes with pillared porches, gabled roofs and dormer windows.
The indigenous Liberian tribes were considered an inferior race and were excluded from the government by restricting voting rights to property owners. The Americo-Liberians segregated themselves from the natives who were excluded from citizenship until 1904.
In 1931, Liberia was accused by the United Nations of practicing “forced labor … hardly distinguishable from slavery” on Firestone’s rubber plantation. The company was granted a 99 year concession there in 1926 and maintains the world’s largest natural rubber operation there to this day.
By 1870, Liberia (like Haiti) had sunk into debt to its European creditors. The financial crisis dragged on for decades with Liberia going bankrupt in 1906 followed by the U.S. taking over its finances (again like Haiti) in 1912. This was followed by a return to insolvency (also like Haiti) in the 1930s.
Between 1945 and 1980, Liberia was propped up by $780 million dollars in foreign aid from the United States. It was a spearhead of American opposition to communism in West Africa.
In spite of enormous foreign assistance, after 133 years of freedom and independence the majority of Liberia’s population in 1980 was living in squalor without access to electricity or clean drinking water. The Liberian government derived the vast majority of state revenues from taxes paid by Firestone, the Liberian Iron Mining Company, and by prostituting its national flag to foreign merchants for a modest fee.
African-American supremacy in Liberia came to an end on April 12, 1980 when a group of seventeen soldiers led by Samuel Doe, an indigenous Liberian from the Krahn ethnic group, scaled the gate of President Daniel Tolbert’s Executive Mansion, overpowered the guards, and murdered Tolbert in his pajamas. They fired three bullets into his head, gouged out his right eye, and disembowled him.
In this way, imperialism finally came to a bloody end in Liberia … when the African-American ruling class was violently overthrown by a military coup d’état. Ministers and officials of the Tolbert government were rounded up, put on trial before the “People’s Redemption Council,” and were sentenced to death.
In the first video below, a crowd of thousands of Liberians laugh and jeer in Monrovia as thirteen high-ranking officials in the Tolbert administration are executed by a squad of drunken soldiers who were tied to telephone poles on a beach in Monrovia, who fire volley after volley into their Americo-Liberian overlords. The mob screams, “Freedom! We got our freedom at last!”
Ten years later, President Samuel Doe was violently executed on state television during the First Liberian Civil War. The United States spent another $500 million dollars in the 1980s propping up the Doe regime which polarized Liberia along ethnic lines by practicing Krahn supremacy, murdering and torturing his rivals, and indiscriminately murdering, raping, and oppressing Gio and Mano civilians in Nimba County.
In the second video, Doe is tortured as his rival Commander Prince Johnson sips a Budweiser and orders his ears cut off. Doe was later able to end his suffering by bashing his brains out against a wall until he died of a cerebral hemorrhage.
The torture and execution of President Samuel Doe in Liberia was only the beginning of the bloodshed and suffering in the (Black) “Land of the Free.” The story of Charles Taylor, General Butt Naked, “Blood Diamonds,” and child soldiers must still be told.