Why President Taylor Should Not Be Granted
Honorary Degree By Morehouse College?
A statement issued by the Liaberian Association of Metropolitan Atlanta on August 25, 1999
As the world undergoes dramatic democratic transformation and is poised to enter the next millennium, it is the hope of most Africans that Africa and the people of African descent everywhere will become the major beneficiaries in the quest for creating a democratic society and bringing the prosperity of the world to those who have least benefited in the last century. Liberians in Atlanta and elsewhere in these United States remain sanguine that Liberia will assume its rightful place amongst the world community of nations as the world prepares for the next century.
But Liberia cannot prepare for the next century if the conditions necessary for making such transition continually remain absent. Having emerged from a seven-year civil war, and now in Taylor's second year as president of post-war Liberia, the vestiges of the past not only linger but have worsened since Mr. Taylor ascended to the presidency, thus dashing any hopes for creating a new and democratic society.
While many Liberians may have wished that Taylor's presidency would have brought much needed relief from harassment and terror, the opposite is now prevalent in Liberia today. The man who masterminded the killing of a tenth of the population (nearly 250,000 people) in the name of change and democracy has embarked on creating the foundations of a ruthless dictatorship unequaled in Liberian history with a barren obsession of becoming a leader in Africa. More and more, evidence abounds that he represents no unified national cause but his own, pre-occupied with crude wealth accumulation at the expense of the citizenry.
With his calculated destruction of Monrovia's electric power facilities during the war, only Taylor now has power and water in the city. He rides an array of expensive cars, including a Rolls Royce while over one million Liberians are reported by the World Food Program to be dependent on relief food assistance in 1998. Employment opportunities are lacking, with the average of the highest paid public servant standing US$20.00 [monthly]. In the midst of such economic malaise, Mr. Taylor, his family and trusted cronies live in unparalleled luxury while the child soldiers who brought him to power roam the streets without any future and hope for education.
It is against this background that we, the members of the Liberian Association of Metropolitan Atlanta (LAMA), find ourselves baffled and deeply troubled about reports that the Board of Trustees, faculty and staff of Morehouse College have begun to seriously consider conferring an "Honorary Doctorate" on Mr. Taylor when he visits Atlanta in September. We are troubled that this great institution that is not only a beacon of hope for African-Americans, but one that is revered by Africans everywhere, would even consider such a thought.
This distinguished institution had produced such great men like Dr. Benjamin Mays, one of the greatest black educators; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a champion for justice and civil rights; and scores of others upon whom Morehouse had rightfully conferred such honorary doctorate. Morehouse College had also honored such great leaders like Nelson Mandela, an immortal figure who suffered all kinds of indignities just to gain freedom for his people and advance pluralistic democracy. We commend your institution for adherence to a policy that recognizes individuals who have unselfishly contributed to the melioration of all mankind.
But Morehouse stands to sully its good name and reputation by conferring such a distinguished honor set aside for men of honor and distinction on Mr. Taylor, the man who has committed the worse form of atrocities and injustice against the Liberian people. It will truly be a sad day for Morehouse if it allows its historical traditions of commitment to freedom, justice and democracy to be ruined by associating with a ruthless former warlord and dictator like Charles Taylor.
Once again, we want to urge the Board of Trustees not to reward Mr. Taylor by granting him an honorary doctorate. By so doing, this will send a loud and clear message that the world will not tolerate injustice with impunity.
J. Kpanneh Doe
Political Affairs Committee
Liberian Association of Metropolitan Atlanta
Liberian Association of Metropolitan Atlanta
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