Jebeh Edmunds: Moving Forward Toward Justice
Jebeh Edmunds has always been an activist. In the sixth grade, she organized a fundraiser selling sweatshirts to raise money for the people in Liberia fighting in the civil war. Recently, she undertook another big project: raising awareness of the Ebola epidemic and collecting over 25 boxes of supplies to send to her native country to help with the fight against the virus. Many of the people of Peace Church joined with Jebeh in gathering those supplies.
Jebeh was born in Liberia to Gbai Gutnecht and Emmet Metzger. She was named for her paternal great aunt who was Chief Jebeh Hahja Sessay of the Vai Tribe. Her grandfather, the late Anthony Kley Yuoh, was a guiding inspiration for her with his words, “Forward ever, backward never.”
Jebeh emigrated to the U.S. with her parents because of civil conflict in Liberia. However, even though she was two years old when her family left, Jebeh has always felt a strong connection to her homeland. Referring to her connections to Liberia, she states, “Even though we are not together, we still are (Liberian).” This strong attachment motivated her to organize the drive to collect supplies. Jebeh’s aunt runs the organization Liberian Medical Relief, the place where the supplies are being sent. Gratefully, the necessities began arriving in October to help fight this battle, a struggle she compares to the Liberian Civil War.
Jebeh grew up in the Twin Cities, and came to Duluth where she earned a BA in Communication at UMD, and then completed a second BA from the College of St. Scholastica, majoring in Elementary Education. She has been active in diversity education and multiculturalism. She was the African American Cultural Specialist for the Duluth Public schools from 2004 to 2011. Jebeh has been a key project manager for many community events, including the Martin Luther King Rally program, Kwanzaa, Juneteenth, and Celebrate Africa (an event that she personally created). She currently teaches first grade at Myers-Wilkins Elementary School. Jebeh states that her life work is “to teach all her students and our Duluth community the importance of tolerance of all cultures.”
She shares this commitment and expertise with Peace Church by teaching Sunday school, and we greatly value her contributions. She inspires us, too, with her grandfather’s vision: “Forward ever, backward never.”
Interviewed by Terese Tomanek
Thank you to Pamela Mittlefehldt for editing Voices for Justice each month!