City names Liberia Street for Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 6
City Names Street In Honor Of Pres. Sirleaf
MONROVIA, September 26 (LINA) - The City of Winston-Salem has named a street in honor of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the city’s oldest black neighborhood.
The street was formerly called Liberia Street, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
Mayor Allen Joines read a proclamation Saturday naming the street “President Sirleaf Lane” to about 50 people who attended the ceremony.
Many of the attendees are current or former residents of the Happy Hill Garden neighborhood.
The sign in Sirleaf’s honor is at the intersection of Liberia and Alder streets.
“She is a true definition of freedom, justice and equality for all people of Liberia,” Joines said of Sirleaf in the proclamation.
Sirleaf visited Winston-Salem at the weekend as part of her trip to the United States for the U.N. General Assembly annual meeting in New York.
She is the first foreign head of state to visit the city during Joines’ 15-year tenure as mayor.
Sirleaf, 77, is the first democratically elected female president of an African nation.
A graduate of Harvard University, Sirleaf is a former World Bank economist.
She is serving her second term as president of Liberia after she was re-elected in 2011.
During that year, Sirleaf shared the Nobel Peace Prize with two other women -Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.
Sirleaf said it was a great honor to have Liberia Street named after her.
“I’ve resisted at home people naming things after me because I said ‘you don’t do that when I am in office. Do that when I leave office,’” Sirleaf said jokingly.
“Since this is not at home, I am pleased to accept it. It’s not only a honor for me, but also it’s a honor for the Liberian people,” she added.
Sirleaf Lane or Liberia Street was part of the Schumann plantation in the early 1800s, the paper said.
It said Dr. Friedrich Schumann freed his slaves in 1836, and they traveled to Liberia, where many freed blacks from the U.S. settled.
Most of Happy Hill’s first settlers were former slaves who had lived or worked in the Moravian town of Salem.
In 1872, the freed slaves bought plots of land in the community that became known as “Liberia” and “Happy Hill.”
By the 1920s, it was known mostly as Happy Hill.
James Hunder Sr., the president of Liberian Organization of the Piedmont, told the crowd that the naming of Liberia Street for Sirleaf was an historic moment.
“We gather here and stand on the broad shoulders of former slaves and former slave masters,” Hunder said.
He then announced a proposal to build a dormitory in Happy Hill for students from Liberia who would attend local universities and colleges.
The project is his organization’s way to help educate Liberian students who would return to their country and help rebuild it.
Rence Callahan, a partner with Walter, Robbs, Callahan and Pierce, a local architectural firm, said the project would be a 20-bed, two-story house with office space, the paper said.
There is no timetable for construction, and the Liberian Organization of the Piedmont would lead efforts to pay for it, Callahan said.
In her remarks, Sirleaf thanked Hunder and the Liberian Organization of the Piedmont for their efforts to help Liberian students.
After the ceremony, Sirleaf talked briefly about the possibility of Hillary Clinton being elected in November as the first female president of the United States.
“We look forward to working with female heads of state all over the world, including in the U.S.,” Sirleaf said.
Apostle Edith Jones, the president of the Ecclestiastes Deliverance Center on Alexander Street, said she welcomed Sirleaf’s visit to the Happy Hill neighborhood.
“We are very excited to see such a beautiful woman who has done so much for her country,” said Jones, the vice president of the Happy Hill Neighborhood Association. “It was a beautiful experience.”