Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe Receives A. Philip Randolph/Bayard Rustin Freedom Award

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted August 22, 2003


Editor's Note: Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe, one of the victim of state of emergency imposed by Charles Taylor, recently received the A. Philip Randolph / Bayard Rustin Freedom Award of the A. Philip Randolph Institute at its 34th Annual Educational Conference held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on August 2, 2003, in Atlanta Georgia. Below is Counselor Gongloe’s acceptance speech:

I am overwhelmed with joy this evening for this historic development in my life. This morning, you asked me to address your conference as the Bayard Rustin Distinguished Speaker for the 34th annual national Educational Conference of your organization and this evening, you have given me the A. Philip Randolph/ Bayard Rustin Freedom Award, your organization’s highest award. I want to thank you, Mr. President and members of the board and staff of the A. Philip Randolph Institute for the honor bestowed upon me this evening.
By awarding me the A. Philip Randolph Freedom Award, you have greatly strengthened me in my desire to work for the realization of the dream for which Liberia was established- the dream that one day Liberia will truly be a paradise for the protection of human rights of all without distinction. This award will serve as constant reminder, at every stage of my life, to remain committed and consistent in the struggle for the respect of human rights and the creation of a just and humane social order in Liberia. I never expected this day in my life because my contribution to the promotion of human rights in my country has been motivated by my conviction and no other consideration. Howbeit, I am very happy for this day.

This day would not been possible without the support of the Liberian people. The desire of the Liberian people for change and their words of encouragement have inspired and strengthened me in being part of the struggle for greater freedom in Liberia. It is to them that this award truly belongs and it is on their behalf that I proudly receive this award.

This day in my life would, certainly, not have been possible without the support of my family and friends. I want to specifically express my deepest gratitude to my lovely wife, Evelyn who is here with me this evening. Thank you, Evelyn for being there for me all the time. I know that I have put you and our children, Tiawanlyn and Gontorwon, through nerve-breaking periods of fear of arrest, rape, kidnap and even death, but you have remained a committed partner. Like me, you believe that the protection of the rights of all in Liberia is the foundation of the security of each person and the violation of the right of a single person is the beginning of the violation of all.

I also want to thank my parents, Wilfred and Elizabeth Gongloe, my brothers and sisters as well as members of my extended family for their continuous support. Further, I want to thank Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, my former professor, who as interim president of Liberia, give me an opportunity to work with him and to deepen my understanding of the Liberian society.

I could have still being in detention in Liberia, probably dead and therefore not present here today, if people have not stood up for me to be released from detention. I want to use this occasion to thank all of them. I want to thank all religious and civil society groups in Liberia, the Media Foundation in Ghana and the African Bar Association, various human rights organizations in the United States, particularly, the Human Rights Watch, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Universal Human Rights International and Friends of Liberia.

Finally, I want to assure all here present this evening that irrespective of what stage in life, I find myself, I will continue to dedicate my life to the search for greater freedom in Liberia as my desire to fight for freedom has been inspired by the selfless life of Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and the greatest man on earth today, Nelson Mandela.

Once again, I want to thank the A. Philip Randolph Institute for this award.

I thank you