Liberia: Bicentennial of the Arrival of the First Free Black Americans to Providence Island, Liberia

Two hundred years ago today, a group of free Black men, women, and children from the United States established a settlement on Providence Island in what would become the city of Monrovia and, in 1847, the Republic of Liberia. Today, the United States joins the Republic of Liberia in commemorating this bicentennial. As two of the oldest continuous republics in the world, the United States and Liberia share a unique history paired with common democratic values. We recognize our common roots and the historical significance of the arrival of these free Black Americans in 1822.

Over the course of the 19th century, roughly 16,000 Black Americans immigrated from the United States to Liberia with the support of the American Colonization Society, joining thousands of resettled Africans rescued and freed from the slave trade by the U.S. Navy. We acknowledge the racist nature of the American Colonization Society and that slavery continued in parts of America for more than 40 years after the arrival of the first Black Americans to Liberia. Racism and oppression motivated many freed Black Americans to look for freedom and equality overseas. That struggle for equality continues to this day.

Africa’s oldest republic, Liberia is a stable democracy in West Africa and an important partner of the United States. In commemorating the bicentennial of the arrival of American settlers, we also recognize the ethnic and cultural diversity of Liberia’s indigenous population, one that long predates the arrival of American immigrants, and celebrate the contributions of all Liberians in making the country what it is today.

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