Historic Resources Commission - Sept. 16, 2019
A local historic marker commemorating the emigration of African Americans from Salem to Liberia will be unveiled at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at the corner of Free and Liberia streets in the Happy Hill neighborhood.
Twenty-three African Americans immigrated to Liberia in 1836 as part of the movement that started in 1822 to resettle formerly enslaved and free African American volunteers along the western coast of Africa. Seventeen of the emigrants had been enslaved on a plantation built on what is now the Happy Hill neighborhood, resulting in the area initially being known as Liberia.
The Liberia colony in Africa declared its independence in 1847. Representatives of the Liberian government will attend the unveiling. Speakers at the unveiling will include Mayor Allen Joines; Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian H. Burke; Council Member Annette Scippio; Prince K. Moye, the deputy speaker of the Liberian House of Representatives; Olu Browne, the president of the Liberian Organization of the Piedmont; and Amatullah Saleem, the president of the Happy Hill Neighborhood Association.
In October 1836, 18 formerly enslaved and 5 free African Americans left Salem for Millsberg, Liberia. Seventeen of these emigrants had been owned by Friedrich Schumann, laboring on his plantation here on the high ground south of Salem. In 1872, after the Civil War and Emancipation, the Salem Congregation established a neighborhood for freedmen on Schumann’s former plantation. The neighborhood initially was known as Liberia, recalling those who had emigrated. By 1876, it was popularly known as Happy Hill. Today’s Liberia Street in Happy Hill follows the path of an 18th-century farm road on that plantation.