Selling Liberia: Moss H. Kendrix, the Liberian Centennial Commission, and the Post-World War II Trade in Black Progress

This article examines the activities of Moss H. Kendrix, a budding black entrepreneur and Public Relations Officer for the Centennial Commission of the Republic of Liberia, during the years immediately following World War II. To secure US investment in Liberia’s postwar development, Kendrix re-presented African Americans and Americo-Liberians as new markets valuable to US economic growth and national security. This article argues that his tactics advanced the global significance of black peoples as modern consumers and his worth as a black markets specialist, while simultaneously legitimating notions of progress that frustrated black claims for unconditional self-determination or first-class citizenship. Kendrix’s public relations work on behalf of Liberia highlights intersections between postwar black entrepreneurialism and politics and US foreign relations, as well as the globalization of US business and consumerism.