Liberian community to celebrate its independence day
Published 6:21 pm Friday, July 28, 2023
Those in Austin of Liberian descent will be celebrating their country’s independence day next weekend.
The Liberian Association for Progress is inviting the public to Liberia’s 176th Independence Day Celebration starting at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 6, at the Veteran’s Pavilion.
A program will be held at 4:30 p.m. and the event will end at 5:30 p.m. During the programming, there will be an inauguration ceremony for Liberian Association for Progress president Sam Wylie and his staff as well as a number of speakers including current Faribault City Council member and former Austin resident Adama Youhn Doumbouya.
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According to Joseph Tarpeh, community chairman and former president of the Liberian Association for Progress, the Independence Day celebration, now in its fourth year, is a chance to not only celebrate the country of Liberia and its people but to also welcome the community to come out and get to know their neighbors.
“That’s why you see us reaching out,” Tarpeh said. “We want to be known because if you look at the history of Liberia, Liberia has a deep tie to America. We want Austin to know we are here.”
“Austin is our community,” he added.
Liberia declared itself independent from the United States in 1847, basing its constitution on the American Constitution.
For the around 100 citizens of Liberia currently in Austin, this year’s celebration is a point of fortitude after several years of trying to find foundation in the community.
“We had challenges, but we were able to persevere,” Tarpeh said. “People want to belong. People want to identify.”
Both Sen. Gene Dornink and Rep. Patty Mueller will be in attendance at the upcoming event and there will also be a recognition of members of the Liberian community who have excelled, as well as those who have recently become U.S. citizens.
Along with those recognitions will be graduating high school seniors and the presentation of scholarships for those who are moving on to college.
“There will be plenty of food — Liberian and American because we are a mixed culture,” Tarpeh added.
However, there is another avenue to this celebration as it marks the continued progress of those from Liberia who continue to seek a good life in the community.
The event is also a fundraiser as the group seeks to help work toward consolidating those of African backgrounds in one cultural organization.
Tarpeh said that another driving force behind the celebration is being part of the City of Austin.
“Liberians want to live and experience the American dream,” Tarpeh said. “They work hard as every other citizen to experience that. They want a better life for their family and themselves. They work pretty hard on that. Because of that they find Austin to be a place of calm and peace.”