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In light of this month’s


focus on diversity, I am

pleased to turn my column

over to Commercial Service

Officer Tamarind Murrietta,

who wrote the following

introduction and letter to

Secretary of Commerce

Penny Pritzker.

—Steve Morrison

Last July, I accepted a posi-

tion as a Foreign Commercial

Service officer and was offi-

cially sworn in by Commerce

Secretary Penny Pritzker.

That month, the country cel-

ebrated the 50th anniversary

of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I was pleased with the

coincidence and began

reflecting on the need to

address diversity in the dip-

lomatic corps. This led me to

send an email to Sec. Pritzker

thanking her for swearing us

in and highlighting the signifi-

cance of this occasion.

Just recently, I read a

column by Gary Silverman

in the

Financial Times


which he reflected on race in

America. He concluded that

black lives are not valued the

same as white lives in the

United States. Mr. Silverman

said this is a “particular kind

of made-in-America pain.”

Programs advocating

and addressing diversity and

equal rights are still needed

today. In addition, decades of

movement toward equality,

including the passage of that

vital legislation, should not go

under-recognized or under-


Foreign Service Diversity and the Civil Rights Act of 1964

To that end, I would like

to share with fellow AFSA

members my message to Sec.


On the dawn of the

50th anniversary of the

Civil Rights Act of 1964, I

paused to reflect on this

life-changing legislation. The

anniversary was especially

noteworthy for me since it

coincided with my swearing-

in as a U.S. diplomat. The

stories of leaps and bounds,

pain and suffering recited by

my ancestors have made me

appreciate the significance of

this moment.

While my grandmother

was valedictorian of her

graduating class and brought

oratorical fireworks to her

recitation of writings such

as “Invictus,” she remained

primarily a housekeeper and

office secretary for most of

her life. As fortunate as my

grandmother’s life has been,

and as fortunate as we are to

have her in ours, she paid the

price for arriving before this

momentous act was passed.

As her granddaughter, I

exemplify all that can now be

attained due in some way to

an act that gives all of us the

opportunity to be the archi-

tects of our own lives.

Being sworn in as a com-

mercial diplomat, I have

the remarkable authority to

represent our great country

in commercial and busi-

ness affairs, as well as assist

small businesses to grow by

exporting their products to

other cultures and com-

munities globally. These

businesses are essential to

American growth.

The anniversary of the

Civil Rights Act reminds me

of the unparalleled contribu-

tion of my ancestors, which

steered the existence of the

America we see today. My

ancestors—the backbone

of this great country—led

us to the signing of an act

that paved the road to my

swearing-in. Their great

undertakings allowed me to

not only fulfill my dreams,

but also those of my grand-

mother, my ancestors and

our entire country.

For me and those I love,

the occasion of my swearing

in was doubly celebratory,

landing as it did on this his-

toric anniversary.

As current recruits submit

applications for this exciting

career, I continue to stand by

our organization’s efforts to

increase the diversity of all

who represent it. Racial and

gender minorities make up a

small percentage of our com-

mercial diplomatic corps.

I offer to work tirelessly to

contribute to increasing the

representation of all and

inciting hope in the many

others who have benefitted

from the Civil Rights Act and

worked so hard to achieve

the qualifications neces-

sary to join the U.S. Foreign

Service. This hard work is the

continuation of the labor of

so many.

Madame Secretary, thank

you for taking the time to

swear in my colleagues and

me as the newest group of

commercial diplomats. And

thank you for taking part in

something that has caused

my grandmother to wear a

proud smile and my ancestors

to give a nod of approval.


—Tamarind Murrietta

Tamarind Murrietta is a

Foreign Commercial Service

FSO currently serving in Nai-

robi on her first assignment.

She joined the Foreign Service

in 2014.



JUNE 2015


In April, the Foreign Service

Journal Editorial Board bid

farewell to its chair, Jim

DeHart, who is departing

for his next assignment, as

deputy chief of mission in

Oslo. AFSA thanks Jim for

his service and wishes him

well in Oslo.






Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA FCS VP.


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