Page 36 - Foreign Service Journal - May 2013

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36
MAY 2013
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Publicizing the contributions of African-Americans to diplomacy and development
work can help attract young, diverse talent to careers in international afairs.
BY MORGAN MCCLA I N -MCK I NNEY
Morgan McClain-McKinney is a program analyst for the Private
Capital Group for Africa at the U.S. Agency for International Develop-
ment. Prior to coming to USAID in 2011, she spent time on Capitol
Hill and at the Department of State, where she worked with interna-
tional organizations. She is a member of both Young Professionals at
AID and Women at AID, as well as the Tursday Luncheon Group at
the Department of State.
O
ver the past fve years, there have been
many articles profling young African-Amer-
icans who have been inspired to pursue
politics or public service by the historic
election of President Barack Obama. Yet far
too many students are still unaware that the
Foreign Service is even a career option—
partly because they haven’t met any persons of color who have
played a prominent role in foreign afairs.
To address this problem, and as part of a wider efort to
organize a celebration of African-American leadership in foreign
afairs, a group of volunteers at the Department of State and
the U.S. Agency for International Development launched a
research project in 2011. Our mission was to compile a database
of African-Americans who have contributed to international
FOCUS
DIVERSITYWITHIN THE FOREIGN SERVICE
development and diplomacy, either through employment with
government agencies or at nongovernmental organizations.
Some names were obvious: President Barack Obama; Colin
Powell, the frst African-American Secretary of State; and his
successor, Condoleezza Rice, the frst female African-American
Secretary of State; Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United
Nations, and Ambassador Johnnie Carson, currently assistant
secretary of State for African afairs. But as we went further back
in time, we found major gaps in the record.
Te Ralph Bunche Library and the Ofce of the Historian,
both at State, were helpful in flling in some of these gaps. We
also reached out to members of the Tursday Luncheon Group
(the State Department’s oldest African-American afnity group),
and the Library of Congress. But when we contacted State and
USAID’s human resources bureaus to request data that disaggre-
gated employees by race or gender, we were told such informa-
tion was not available.
An Unexpected Source
Fortunately, we soon caught a break. Tucked away in the pages
of a 2008 Department of State fnancial report, we uncovered the
names of some key frsts in the feld, as well as a database that
catalogued all African-American ambassadors up to that year.
CELEBRATING
OUR PAST,
UPLIFTING
OUR FUTURE