Liberians protest Trump's policies. (WI photo)
**FILE** Liberians protest Trump's policies. (WI photo)

On Tuesday, July 26, Liberians around the world celebrated the 175th Independence Day of Africa’s first Black republic. A parade in Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia was the culmination of several days of celebration that took place in Liberia and in many Liberian strongholds across the U.S. 

At a time when an anti-African sentiment has overtaken a segment of the U.S. Black population, some Liberians continue to heal from past trauma and relish in their centuries-long relationship with African Americans. In D.C., the Liberian Embassy, located on the corner of 16th Street and Colorado Avenue in Northwest, became Ground Zero for cross-cultural connections between what many would consider not-so-distant cousins. 

In 1847, Liberia declared its independence from the U.S. nearly 30 years after freed Black repatriates formed the West African colony with the help of the American Colonization Society. The circumstances of Liberia’s founding have always been mired in controversy. Critics point to the U.S. government’s nefarious intentions and the several decades of “Americo-Liberian” rule that laid the foundation for the 1980 coup and subsequent civil wars. 

On Saturday, there was little mention of that tenuous past. Instead, African Americans and Liberians converged on the embassy grounds to eat good food and take in the sounds of Liberia’s hottest artists. In small clusters, they also engaged in commerce and spoke about their commonalities. 

One would reckon that Marcus Garvey envisioned this type of exchange taking place when, in the 1920s, he set his sights on Cape Palmas, Liberia for the Universal Negro Improvement Association’s Back-to-Africa program. 

Due to interference from the U.S. and other western powers, those plans never came to fruition. 

In the second half of the 20th century, as other African nations gained their independence with Pan-African flair, they, too, became destinations for Black repatriates. These days, Ghana, Tanzania, Guinea and Senegal, among other African nations, have strong repatriate communities. 

As Liberia continues to bounce back from civil wars and the Ebola epidemic, some people of African descent see the country’s potential in realizing similar goals in this day and age. However, doing so requires some examination of how the U.S. government, to some degree, continues to exploit its relationship with Liberia. 

On this side of the world, African Americans have a similarly abusive relationship with Uncle Sam. Perhaps, that’s more than enough reason for African Americans and Liberians to explore the possibility of forging strong cultural and economic ties like what Garvey and others envisioned.

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