Reflect: Key People, Connections and Discussion Questions

This page is about reflection. You’ll find a list of some of the key people and organizations relevant to this section. You’ll also find a section called intersectionality to encourage thinking about how different issues are connected, and discussion questions to encourage deeper thinking. Take some time to answer the questions, look these people up and learn more about their stories.

The content on this site is not complete: there are countless numbers of people and so many stories — from small acts of defiance to major leadership positions — that didn’t get recorded or that don’t often make it into textbooks.

This website is meant to be grown and improved upon. We’ve included some of the heroes, but if you know people we are missing, let us know so we can include their stories too.

Key People & Groups

  • Amaha Kassam
  • Mike Elliot
  • The West African Collaborative
  • The Organization of Liberians in Minnesota
  • Liberian Women's Initiatives - Minnesota


There are more than five hundred languages in the west African region alone, over two hundred and fifty ethnic groups, and various religions are practiced. It is important to note that individuals from the same nation (i.e. Nigeria) can come from different ethnic groups.

Examining the differing histories of African immigrants is critical in understanding intersectionality.

Before the 1970’s, there were not many African people migrating to the United States largely due to restrictions that favored European immigration to the United States. The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 removed these restrictions and allowed for immigrants from African countries to migrate to the United States.

The 1970s oil boom in Nigeria allowed large numbers of students to emigrate from Nigeria to the United States for college, while the influx of Liberian immigration into the United States was largely due to the Liberian civil war from 1989 to 1997.

Ghanaians, on the other hand, emigrated from Ghana to the United States seeking business opportunities, specialized training, and education. Although these individuals are all from West Africa, their home country, ethnic background, and religion change the way they experience the world.

Christianity is the dominant religion practiced in Ghana and Liberia. Islam and Christianity are the dominant religions practiced in Nigeria. Two families may come from Nigeria but their experience with xenophobia an irrational fear of or prejudice against people from other countries. In the United States, this manifests as discrimination against immigrants, most often immigrants of color can change based on their religious practices.

The Muslim family is likely to experience Islamophobia Hatred, hostility, or prejudice against Muslims because of their religious practices.

Though these groups are from the west African region it is critical to examine the history of their birth nation, religion, educational and ethnic background, class, and immigration status to understand how they experience discrimination.

Discussion Questions: 
How does ethnicity differ from race?
How do the voting experiences of West Africans compare to the voting experiences of African Americans?
What difference does education and economic security make in access to voting?
What are the similarities and differences in the experiences between immigrant communities?