DER Documentary

Liberia: America's Stepchild

by Nancee Oku Bright
color, 90 min, 2002


Liberia was once the pride and hope of black Africa. Founded in 1821 by American freeborn blacks and former slaves who returned to West African shores, Liberia was also the home of indigenous tribes who were not always welcoming to the American expatriates. Trace the struggles, wars and volatile political history that led to the establishment of Africa's first independent republic and to the devastating civil war of the 1980's which left the country in poverty and despair.

Some 200 years after the first Africans were transported against their will, their descendants sailed back to the land of their ancestors. Soon, thousands of freeborn blacks and former slaves settled on Africa's west coast, in what would become Liberia.

This documentary from Liberian filmmaker Nancee Oku Bright and Zvi Dor - Ner follows the parallel stories of America's relationship with the African republic of Liberia - created with the backing of the American Colonization Society and the US government as a home for former slaves and freeborn blacks - and the settlers' relationship with the indigenous people.

The film also explores Liberia's evolution as Africa's first independent republic, the nurturing of its international diplomatic relations, and the causes of the turmoil and strife that have ravaged the country since 1980.

Quicktime preview here. Lesson plans for the documentary here.

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