KARMA BAILEY’s ancestors were freed American slaves who left South Carolina with hopes of a better life in the new African nation of Liberia. Generations of her family prospered there. But less than a hundred years after her ancestors fled the oppressiveness of the American South, Bailey and her family were forced to flee a Liberia torn apart by civil war.
For months after the fighting began, Bailey and about 40 members of her extended family took refuge in her grandmother’s home near the U.S. Embassy. “That was the safest place in the country during the war,” says Bailey, now a third-year student at the University of South Carolina School of Law.
“Although there were 40-plus people living in my grandmother’s three-bedroom home, we were able to survive mainly unscathed by the atrocities outside the neighborhood,” she says.