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A Black History Moment: Madame President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

A Black History Moment: Madame President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Dubbed the "Iron Lady," because she has made it her goal to abolish corruption in her country, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the newly elected president of Liberia and the first elected female president of the  African continent.  Johnson-Sirleaf  has held many positions in  finance:  Minister of Finance of the Government of Liberia, Vice- President of the Executive Board of Equator Bank in Washington , D.C., President of Liberian Bank of Development and Investment,  Senior Loan Office of World Band and Vice President of Citibank.

Madame President

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (1939- )

President of Liberia

Dubbed the "Iron Lady," because she has made it her goal to abolish corruption in her country, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the newly elected president of Liberia and the first elected female president of the  African continent. 

“It is positive that the country moved to elect a woman, particularly one running against a popular athlete. It has to say something about their attitude toward women in that country,” Kevin Buterbaugh, associate professor of political science at Southern Connecticut State University told the Associated Press on the day Johnson-Sirleaf was elected.

As a founding member of the International Institute for Women in Political Leadership, Johnson-Sirleaf has played an active role in her country's politics for over twenty years.

Receiving  her bachelor's in accounting  from the College of West Africa in Monrovia, Johnson-Sirleaf received advanced  degrees  from the University of Colorado and Harvard University's JFK School of  Government  in public administration .

Johnson-Sirleaf  has held many positions in  finance:  Minister of Finance of the Government of Liberia, Vice- President of the Executive Board of Equator Bank in Washington , D.C., President of Liberian Bank of Development and Investment,  Senior Loan Office of World Band and Vice President of Citibank.

The history of Liberia and much of its present-day civil conflict shed another light on the tentacles of American racism. Liberia, which means “Land of the Free,” was founded by freed slaves from the U.S.  under the supervision of the American Colonization Society in 1820.  

With  the U.S. facing a  declining slave economy  in the 1800’s and  with no sound  provisions made to  established blacks  in society on an equal basis with white Americans the American Colonization Society was formed to return Africans  brought illegally to the U.S. back to Africa.  More than 11, 000 ex-slaves were transported to Liberia  and were called Americo-Liberians. Consequently,  social inequalities between indigenous Liberians and  Americo-Liberians developed and lead to much of the political and social strife in the country, with U.S. supporting  Americo- Liberians upholding their interests.

Because of more than a decade of civil war, between these  two groups the presidency of Liberia has a long-standing reputation as a dangerous job, and  Johnson-Sirleaf , the daughter of descendants of  ex-African slaves from America , knows the arduous  and dangerous struggle before her.

Dr. James Sirleaf, an emergency room doctor at Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut, and the youngest of her four sons, however,  has high hopes for his mother’s presidency.

“My mother has a strong sense of values.  She spoke against what she saw as unfairness against other people. People wanted to know that she would be fair to every ethnic group in the country and she represents all of Liberia. People find that she's very hands-on. She will be a responsible leader."

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