A Legacy Larger Than Life: Rep. Munah Pelham-Youngblood

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When the Congress for Democratic Change contested the presidential and general elections for the second time in 2011 and lost, one of the consoling points for many hardcore CDCians who felt let down when the masses-driven party elected to have their political leader George Manneh Weah play second fiddle to Cllr. Winston Tubman, was the emergence of a new breed of politicians from the trenches, jostling and earning their rightful places within Liberia’s 53rd Legislature. Picturesque, regal and overly eloquent, a vibrantly youthful former runway queen was one of the many diehard new breed CDCian politicos who stormed Capitol Hill in 2011 following an impressive win in Montserrado County’s District # 9.

From that moment of her emergence as a gender glass ceiling breaker, and up to the announcement of her untimely demise on Wednesday, June 8, 2020, Representative Munah Pelham Youngblood’s name will go down in the annals of post-conflict Liberian history as a campaigner for women’s rights and equal representation in governance and politics. In line with our sacred duty of paying homage to this fallen, respected youthful female lawmaker, snatched in the prime of her life, The Analyst’s Publisher and Managing Editor Stanley Seakor provides this befitting tribute.

The daughter of Lone Star’s former coach Walter Pelham, Representative Youngblood became one of the youngest and the only no-nonsense female lawmaker of the CDC during the 53rd Legislature, serving as Co-chairperson on the Executive at the time. Due to her astute attendance record at the House and her proactive development initiatives within her district, Rep. Youngblood again won the hearts and minds of her constituents in District #9, thereby allowing the people to reelect her in 2017, among 31 other incumbents. Of course, Rep. Youngblood’s performance at the House of Representatives did not go unnoticed, as the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) report cards constantly recorded her for her outstanding attendance.

Close to the end of the 53rd Legislature, Rep. Youngblood’s voice would become outstanding in the House as “Secretary to the Aggrieved Lawmakers”, a group of renegade lawmakers who promoted the ouster of former Speaker J. Alex Tyler in 2016 in favor of former Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay.

As Chairman on the House’s Executive Committee, Representative Youngblood oversaw the planning of the first Joint Session of the 54th Legislature on January 22, 2019. She is also credited for organizing the two State of the nation Addresses delivered by President George M. Weah since his incumbency.

As a very close confidante to President Weah, it was highly rumored that the Liberian chief executive would have appointed Representative Youngblood as his Minister of State for Presidential Affairs following the 2017 presidential and general elections. Although this prediction did not come to pass, Representative Youngblood would however remain a constant fixture in the president’s inner circle until she fell seriously ill and left Liberia for medical treatment.

A Nation Shocked Again

News about Representative Youngblood’s death has indeed left the entire country in shock, coming hot on the heels of the death of another CDC lawmaker, Representative Jay Nagbe Sloh.

“The death of any Liberian or another human being is a great loss for all humanity. It reminds us about our own mortality. We are indeed saddened by this unspeakable loss,” laments a key opposition figure.

Representative Youngblood is survived by her husband, Dr. Youngblood, a daughter and her mother.

A career diplomat, Representative Youngblood is a graduate of the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida Graduate School of International Relations, University of Liberia.

She sponsored many projects not only within her district but nationwide that promoted the education and empowerment of young girls.