Brown signs her book as Dr. Sawyer, others look on

– Sister Mary Laurene Brown launches biography on the late Liberian diplomat, jurist

Students, present and former Ministers of Education, other statesmen and women, veteran journalists Philip Wesseh and Kenneth Y. Best, among others over the weekend assembled at the Monrovia City Hall to witness the historic launch of the biography of Dr. Angie Elizabeth Brooks Randolph, authored and published by one of Liberia’s seasoned educators, Sister Mary Laurene Brown, president of the Stella Maris Polytechnic.

Dr. Randolph was an outstanding Liberian diplomat and jurist. From 1954, she served as Liberia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, during which time she became the second woman to ascend to the post of president of the United Nations General Assembly (1970), and being the first from Africa to accomplish the feat. Prior to her UN career, she served as Liberia’s assistant Secretary of State. At the end of her assignment at the UN, she was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia; again, the first woman to hold such a position.

Stating her reason for writing the biography of so enterprising a stateswoman, Sister Brown said her mission is centered on dedicating to Liberian children a lifelong memory of a great woman who has served not only her country but the world in general.

“Going through this painstaking duty of compiling a piece directly reflecting the real person of Dr. Randolph, I reminded myself of her tenacity, courage and exuberance in rendering service to her nation and others beyond her continent of origin,” Sister Mary Laurene said.

She noted that Dr. Randolph, who was one of her role models, did not at any time feel inferior neither did she get intimidated by conditions or people of high ranks around her.

“This heroine was not born to be forgotten. Therefore, with genuine support from all my partners and friends, I was confident that I could succeed in putting together the best of everything I remember about her,” Sister Brown said.

Miss Angie Elizabeth Brooks, who was elected president of the twenty-fourth session of the UN General Assembly, previously served as Assistant Secretary of State of Liberia since 1958.

She had been Liberia’s delegate to the General Assembly since 1954 serving in the following capacity in United Nations: Vice-Chair of the Assembly’s Fourth Committee (Trust and Non-Self Governing Territories) in 1956; Vice-President of the Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories, 1961; Chair of the Fourth committee during the 1961 session; Chair of the United Nations Commission for Rwanda-Burundi, 1962; Chair of the United Nations Visiting Mission to the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, 1964; Vice-President of the Trusteeship Council, 1965; and President of the Trusteeship Council, 1966.

Minister of Education George K. Werner, speaking at the book launch, quoted French philosopher Étienne Charpentier, who said, “A country is only independent when it is able to write its own story,” which he said is gradually taking root in the Liberian setting.

“We have come here today to once again honor Dr. Randolph through Sister Mary’s compilation of her biography,” he said.

Werner added that storytelling helps children and adults alike to know why things happen the way they happened and provides one of the many opportunities to know how to decide between what is good and what is bad.

“Thank you, Sister Mary, for contributing to the maintenance of the tradition of writing in our country,” he noted, adding that he is proud to be part of a system built by many great Liberian educators, including Dr. Evelyn Kandakai, former Minister of Education.

According to the Education Minister, Dr. Angie Brooks Randolph lived in the time of excessive male dominance but she stood her ground and lit the way for many women, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

He expressed his joy at seeing that females comprise 49 percent of students in schools across the country, but stressed the need for the improvement of quality in service delivery in the education sector.

“What we should be thinking of now is about writing the biographies of those living. I mean, Dr. Kandakai, Sister Mary, who has written this wonderful book, Mr. Kenneth Y. Best, and many other great sons and daughters of our land who are now so advanced in age.”

Former Foreign Minister Dr. Olubanke Akerele, who is the president of the Angie Brooks International Center, said Dr. Randolph was extraordinary in all her activities in service.

“In memory of our star (Angie Brooks), our center is making impacts in the lives of many women across the country. Our ‘Women Situation Room’ is very vigilant in ensuring that women’s voices are adequately heard and respected nationwide and globally,” Dr. Akerele said.

She said Dr. Randolph was a staunch patriot who never wavered to stand up for what was in the best interest of the country and strongly opposed ills against people and society in general.

Born on August 4, 1928 in Virginia, Montserrado County, Liberia, Ms. Brooks held several degrees from universities in the United States, including a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science from Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina (1949); a Bachelor of Law degree and a Master of Science degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin (1952); and Doctor of Law degrees from Shaw University (1962) and Howard University (1967).

She did graduate work in International Law at the University College Law School of London University in 1952 and 1953 and obtained a Doctor of Civil Law degree from Liberia University in 1964.

Miss Brooks was admitted as Counsellor-at-Law to the Supreme Court of Liberia in August 1953 and served as Assistant Attorney-General of Liberia from August 1953 to March 1958. She also served as part-time Professor of Law at Liberia University from 1954 to 1958.

From 1956 to 1958, she was Liberia’s Vice President of the International Federation of Women Lawyers. In 1959-60, she served as the Federation’s Vice-President for Africa and as President of the Federation from 1964 to 1967. In 1958, she represented Liberia and the Federation at the first session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Miss Brooks was for two years Vice-President of the National Liberian Political and Social Movement. She also served as Special Assistant to the Executive Secretary of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention since 1966.

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