Shown, from left, are Dr. Anthony Davis, Livingstone College chief operating officer; Liberian Ambassador to the US George S.W. Patten, Sr.; Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander; mayor of Monrovia, Liberia, Jefferson Koijee; and Dr. State Alexander, Livingstone’s vice president of communications and public relations. The group met Nov. 11 at City Hall to discuss a functioning sister city relationship with the West African city of Monrovia.
SALISBURY – Livingstone College joined the City of Salisbury in talks to form a sister city relationship with Monrovia, Liberia in West Africa.
Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander met with Monrovia Mayor Jefferson Koijee on Nov. 11 at City Hall to discuss a relationship between the two municipalities.
The Liberian Ambassador to the United States George S.W. Patten, Sr., was also in attendance, in addition to Livingstone College’s Dr. Anthony Davis, chief operating officer; Dr. State Alexander, vice president of communications and public relations; and Kimberly Harrington, director of public relations.
The mayor also invited Rod Crider, Rowan County’s economic development director, and Elaine Spalding, Rowan County Chamber of Commerce president, to the discussion.
The historic meeting transpired after Alexander attended an international press conference Oct. 27 at Livingstone College featuring a Liberian teenager, via Zoom, who found and returned $50,000 to its rightful owner. Emmanuel Tuloe became an international hero who announced his desire to finish his education. Livingstone College was the first college to offer the teen a full scholarship.
Alexander initiated a dialogue with Patten after the press conference about a potential sister city relationship with Monrovia because of the successful cultural, sister city relationship Salisbury shares with Salisbury, England.
“I wanted this sister city relationship to be economic as well due to Livingstone’s partnership with the City of Salisbury through KIVA and the 1MBB program,” Alexander said. KIVA is a nonprofit organization that provides loans to eligible women- and minority-owned businesses. 1MBB, or 1 Million Black Businesses Initiative, aims to give one million black entrepreneurs and small business owners the tools they need to succeed.
“This is a great opportunity for us to advance not only the cultural, but our commitment as a city for racial equity and inclusion,” Alexander said. “This could be the beginning of something really big.”
“You have taken the bull by the horn to move forward,” Koijee told Alexander, adding that on behalf of the City of Monrovia and its council members, he appreciates her sense of diversity and the environment she has created to provide for different types of people.
Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander, center, discusses a sister city relationship with the mayor of Monrovia, Liberia, Jefferson Koijee, left. Livingstone College was also involved in the historic meeting as Dr. Anthony Davis, chief operating officer, is shown right on Nov. 11.
The entities present, which also included Dr. James Hunder, chair, and Olu Browne, president, of the Winston-Salem-based Liberian Organization of the Piedmont (LOP), went over a draft memorandum of understanding for a cultural, educational and economic relationship between the two governments.
Alexander will present the draft to current City Council members for their input and wisdom, but said it would be the new City Council that will vote on the partnership at its December meeting.
This initiative “speaks to your leadership – always inclusive and being very intentional in making sure everyone has a voice. We appreciate that,” said Davis of Livingstone, who spoke on behalf of President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. “That is the spirit in which this document was drafted. It goes beyond just a cultural experience, but perhaps an economic experience – a relationship that would be mutually beneficial.”
Livingstone College has relationships with institutions in Liberia, just as it does in India, said State Alexander. Mayor Alexander has already demonstrated this level of involvement with those institutions in India and “this is the very kind of thing we want to grow and enhance in Liberia,” he said.
“Just to think that a young man is the reason that I was there (at Livingstone) to celebrate,” Mayor Alexander said. “It just touched my heart that day. Here is an example of someone who is so young and yet has grasped the importance of character, where that when no one else is looking – except God – he’s doing the right thing, and that’s the way I grew up. It was just wonderful.”
The relationship between Liberia and America dates far back. The first freed American slaves who came to Liberia are believed to be from Winston-Salem, NC, and settled in what is today, Monrovia, named after America’s fifth president, James Monroe. Liberia is the only country in the world founded by free American slaves and is the first and oldest modern republic in Africa.
“We have a very unique history,” Koijee said.
Liberia is preparing to celebrate its bicentennial on next year, and Mayor Alexander and Livingstone College officials are hoping to attend.
About Livingstone College
Livingstone College is a private historically black college that is secured by a strong commitment to quality instruction, academic excellence and student success. Through a Christian-based environment suitable for holistic learning, Livingstone provides excellent business, liberal arts, STEAM, teacher education and workforce development programs for students from all ethnic backgrounds designed to promote lifelong learning, and to develop student potential for leadership and service to a global community. For more information, visit www.livingstone.edu.