Tolson’s “Libretto for the Republic of Liberia”

In Melvin Tolson’s poem Libretto for the Republic of Liberia, a moment stood out to me that made me think about the meaning of Afro-futurism, or what could be.  This moment can be represented by the quote “The iron nerve of lame and halt and blind, Liberia and not Liberia, A moment of the conscience of mankind!”.  From this quote, I feel that the author could be talking about how the country of Liberia is a “moment of the conscience of mankind” in that the oppression of African natives has been forever ingrained into the consciousness of man, and that such a reflection should remain conscious so it is not forgotten, which could therefore allow for a brighter future to be envisioned for African natives. To me this encompasses what Afro-futurism is, or could be.

One moment I found difficult to understand was “No Cobra Pirate of the Question Mark, No caricature with a mimic flag And golden joys to fat the shark”.  The purpose of this passage was to reassure the Liberian state that it is not an extension of American Imperialism, and that it’s early trade with the United States did not simply enrich a country “still growing fat” on the slave trade. This quote can relate to the history vs. future discussion we had in class because it is demonstrating how the future of Liberia does not have to remain coincided with it’s history, as well as the United State’s involvement in their history.

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