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Becoming Mama Maida

Maida Springer in New York City and Africa
  • Patricia A. Schechter
Chapter
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Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series book series (PMSTH)

Abstract

If Puerto Rico passed as a state at the World’s Fair “Court of States,” so too did Liberia perform—or fail to perform—nation-statehood in a range of US venues, like the Columbian Exposition back in 1893.1 Liberia cancelled its participation in the New York World’s Fair of 1939–1940, its pavilion sited, tentatively, in the US “government area” of the fairgrounds. The Liberian legislature’s request to the Firestone Corporation to float bonds to fund a stand-alone exhibit was declined by the company. Deeming the expense “out of proportion with the importance and world position of Liberia,” Firestone declared that monies so raised “could be much better spent at home than at the New York World’s Fair.”2 Entrenched in Liberia since the 1920s, the company made profitability in its rubber plantations a priority.3 In New York, Firestone represented Liberia not as a nation but as a “jungle hinterland” where the company’s “extensive plantations” were located and through which visitors walked on their way to the “modern tire factory” installed at their exhibit.4 Firestone’s neocolonial posture found support in Liberian president William V. S. Tubman’s economic “Open Door Policy,” a policy echoed in Governor Luis Muñoz Marin’s “Operation Bootstrap” for Puerto Rico in the postwar period. Free-trade enthusiasm and heightened commerce—economic, intellectual, and political—between New York, Puerto Rico, and west Africa provide the context for Maida Springer’s peak years of postwar international labor activism, work that met a sobering conclusion in Liberia in 1965.

Keywords

York City Labor Movement Oral History African Woman Rubber Plantation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Carol Bowen Johnson, “World’s Fair Letter,” The Independent (July 20, 1893): 977. Exhibition of Objects Illustrating the History and Condition of the Republic of Liberia, exhibition catalogue March 23 to April 4, 1914 (Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1914).Google Scholar
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© Patricia A. Schechter 2012

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  • Patricia A. Schechter

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