United States’ Congressional Delegation Pays Homage to Liberia’s ‘Significant Role’ in Advancement of Freedom
Monrovia – The head of the U.S. Congressional Delegation to Liberia, Congressman Gregory Meeks has paid homage to Liberia’s founding fathers; saying their courage to seek freedom paved the way for the advancement of African Americans and people of African descent across the globe.
Congressman Meeks, represents New York’s Fifth Congressional District and chairs the House of Representatives’ influential Foreign Affairs Committee. He is currently heading a delegation comprising of seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives as part of Liberia’s ongoing Bicentennial celebration.
They include Representatives Joyce Marie Beatty, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, representing Ohio’s 3rd congressional district, George Kenneth Butterfield Jr. of the 1st congressional district of North Carolina and Ami Bera, California’s 7th congressional district. Other include Reps. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota’s 5th congressional district and the first naturalized American citizen born on African soil (Somalia) to serve in Congress, Brenda Lawrence, Michigan 14th congressional district and Troy Anthony Carter of Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district.
On Monday, following a meeting with President George Weah at the Executive Mansion, the delegation visited the ‘historic’ Providence Baptist Church. The Church, known as the cornerstone of the nation played a pivotal role in the formation of Liberia. It was in the Church that the Declaration of Independence was signed and the first Constitution was adopted.
The Senior Pastor of the Providence Baptist Church, Rev. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr., thanked the delegation for visiting Liberia and the Church in particular. Giving more historical backgrounds, he said it was the Church’s third Pastor, Hilary Teage, who wrote the Declaration of Independence.
Built in 1835, the Church was among the first landmark structures in Monrovia, and after Independence on July 26, 1847, it was used to host several national events including the first sessions of the Legislature and other Christian Faiths including the Presbyterian and the United Methodist Churches that had not built their own places of worship at that time.
Rev. Reeves noted that the Church has become and pray to remain the conscience of the nation. And just as the founding fathers did, the Church will continue to pray for the success of Liberia, the health of democracy, and the wellbeing of its leaders and people from Providence Hill. “History tells us that it was on this Hill that Liberia emerged strong, rich and free.” he said.
He continued: “It is our honor and our pleasure to have you here today – at the birthplace of Liberia. Providence has played her role. The first school and the first medical facilities of any kind were founded by Providence and other Churches. The Church has and continue to be the foundation of the nation. Even though sometimes, the Government doesn’t like to admit the truth but that is the truth, Providence continues to play her role- speaking truth to power. Providence continues to be the light right here on this hill.”
Mounting the podium following a brief introduction by U.S. Ambassador Michael McCarthy, Congressman Meeks said the trip to Liberia was a homecoming for him and his colleagues. He said despite the introduction of slavery and a campaign to erase Africans’ history, cultures and values, the courage of the pioneers to leave America in search of freedom played a significant role in preserving the continent’s history. Liberia, he said has played a standout role in the promotion of freedom, and in part, attributed the achievements made by African Americans in the struggle for freedom and equality to the sacrifices made by the settlers who came to Liberia in search of freedom; along with their African brothers and sisters who wholeheartedly embraced them.
Top among these achievements include the elections of Barack Obama as the first African American President of the United States, and current U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris as the first African American Vice President and a huge number of current black congressional members on Capitol Hill.
“What I see here is us coming back, joining hands from across that ocean that separated us. And now in the United States who would have thought that 50 members of African decedents would be leading the United States Congress? With the Vice President of United State of America, with former President of United States of America, who all heritage started right here. So, I want to say to you today I am happy to be on this shores to celebrate with you.”
Congresswoman Beatty, in a brief remark, said with God, the ancestors were able to withstand all adversities to attain their freedom, and wishing Liberia a happy Bicentennial, she said: “The Lord God is the ruler of our ancestors. He ruled all kingdoms and he rules all nations, power is in his hands, and nothing can withstand that.”
For the guests, the brief program was a momentous occasion. It was a moment of somber reflection as it invoked a sense of entitlement.
As the original and ageless copies of the Declaration of Independence, the first Constitution of Liberia and first Liberian Flag were on display, Rev. Laura C. Pritchard, the Director of the Sister-Church Relation sang renditions of beautiful gospel songs deeply rooted in the Negro spirituals, while the names of the 88 settlers who first came to Liberia on Ship Elizabeth, the Mayflower in Liberia’s history, was read out in the Church.