Find out how African Americans came to settle in Liberia in the 1800s, and cause tensions that ultimately led to a civil war in 1989, in this video short from FRONTLINE. Because of their race, many free blacks in 1820s America couldn’t grow a business, find work, or vote, and were always in danger of being kidnapped and sold into slavery. A plan was developed to colonize a part of West Africa and create a new country that free blacks could move to and call their own. While some African Americans, including Frederick Douglass, thought this plan was a scheme to deny blacks a place in American society, thousands agreed to emigrate to this West African location. In 1847, the new independent republic of Liberia was formed. However, tensions between original inhabitants and the colonists persisted. The colonists set up plantation-style agriculture, much like they had left behind in the American South. They also allowed American companies to exploit natural resources. The tensions ultimately played a big role in the civil war that erupted in 1989. While it continues to hold close ties with the U.S., Liberia remains a very poor country. This resource is part of the FRONTLINE Collection.
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