Columbus historian finds Valley roots in Liberia while doing film project

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Liberia is a West African republic far from the banks of the Chattahoochee River.

Yet, the blood of Columbus’ black ancestry still flows through the veins of many inhabitants.

Matt McDaniel, a Columbus architectural historian, first documented the untold story in his book “Emigration to Liberia,” where he traced the mass migration of more than 500 freed blacks from the Chattahoochee Valley to Liberia after the Civil War. About 447 were from Columbus and 39 from Eufaula, Ala., accounting for about 12 percent of black emigrants from the United States to Liberia during that period, according to McDaniel’s research.

Now, McDaniel is developing a documentary film tracing the historic ties between the two regions through Azilia Films, a start-up company that researches and documents forgotten and compelling stories throughout the globe. He recently took a trip to Liberia and found families with roots in Columbus.

“The Chattahoochee Valley / Liberia Project proposes to illustrate the United States’ profound historical association with the West African republic of Liberia through an educational film focusing on Columbus, Georgia’s unique past connections to that country and its present-day relationships,” according to information provided by the company. “The film will track the post‐Civil War emigration of these African‐Americans ‘back’ to Africa, their assimilation into Liberia’s unique American‐influenced culture, current connections between Columbus and Liberia, and through on‐location interviews and shooting, introduce present‐day Liberian descendants and the difficult conditions, they, their families, and all of Liberia have faced and continue to face.”

See more at the Ledger.

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