Since 2014, Kenneth Riley, President, Local 1422, International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO has directed a three humanitarian effort in Liberia. Sponsored in large part by the ILA, the humanitarian effort brings aid and assistance to an area of West Africa that once produced 50 percent of the slave traffic brought in chains to America.
Working with the organization Save More Kids, Riley said that simple staples like rice, sardines, corn and peas sent to Liberia are viewed as “noting less than a miracle” by its citizens.
“The people of that country are praising Almighty God,” said Riley, who also serves as an International Vice President representing his home Port of Charleston, South Carolina and East Coast Representative for the International Dockers’ Council. “I believe every African American in the ILA can trace their ancestry to that part of the world. I am committed to this work and, as always, I give appropriate credit to the ILA.”
Viewing this work as a means of repaying a centuries-old debt to Liberia, Riley continued: “Without the ILA, I would not have a platform to engage in this humanitarian effort.”
QuanuQuanei A. Karmue, president and founder of Save More Kids describes the impact of the ILA’s efforts to bring food and basic necessities to this impoverished area. “Without Mr. Riley, the ILA community and their amazing partners, our efforts would only be a dream. The ILA has been such a blessing over the last few years with amazing commitments to provided relief and hope to the people of Liberia through Save More Kids. These are people with a bit of God existing in their hearts for humanity. One hundred percent of the rice donated and shipped came from the ILA.”
There is a strong connection between Liberia and Charleston, South Carolina. Slave ships once sailed into the Port of Charleston and grim reminders of slave markets still remain in the Downtown area. ILA’s Ken Riley said many friendships have been formed between ILA members in Charleston and the people of Liberia.