Ledlum Recommendation for Non Negroes Becoming Liberians

By: Dr. Leon Q. Ledlum

July 19, 2005

I would like to be on record as a Liberian who is in favour of extending the Liberian citizenship to non negroes, but with a stringent adherence to the conditions that would be set as requirements. These requirements would have no presidential preferences or waivers whatsoever.

All who know the Liberian Constitutions of 1820, 1839, 1847 and 1986, have in each an exclusionary article as it relates to who can be a Liberian. And that exclusionary article is “Article 27 and 28 of the 1986, and in the 1847, it is found in Section 13 and reads:

“Section 13th. The great object of forming these Colonies, being to provide a home for the dispersed and oppressed children of Africa, and to regenerate and enlighten this benighted continent, none but Negroes or persons of Negro descent shall be eligible tocitizenship in this Republic”.

Reasons for my current position are multiple, albeit all the historical justifications. And they are as follow:

(a)-It is only human that a child or children should share the same citizenship with their parents. Unfortunately, the Liberian Constitution before and now says no. Under past and present Liberian Constitutions, a child or children of mixed race, e.g. Liberian mother and father who is non negro, or Liberian father and mother who is non negro, could be Liberian(s), if he/she or they so choose but the father/mother cannot be because he/she is non negro. I find this morally repugnant, and psychologically damaging.

(b)-We now live in a world were the issue of race does cast a negative image on a person or nation. I am aware of the rational behind this exclusionary section or articles, and they were in place then. But we as a people need to step back and look at children’s whose parents cannot be what they can be as nationals, just because they are of a different race. The reason for which the exclusionary provision was adopted is neutered when a non negro marries a negro spouse, and therefore, warrants our recognition of such act of love and belonging.

My recommendation in view of the above example, is that people who are non negroes and married to a Liberian spouse, and with children, should be given that legal option to share Liberian citizenship with their child/children.

Note the emphasis is on “having children who are Liberians or can be Liberians.”

Dr. Leon Q. Ledlum, 5212 Parker Street, Richmond, Va 23231