The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2021

14 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL ent to welcome each group of Pickering and Rangel Fellows during annual recep- tions co-hosted by TLG and the Associa- tion of Black American Ambassadors. What captured my attention was the fact that when he was assigned as ambassador to South Africa, apartheid had a firm hold on the country; but shortly after his departure from Pretoria, apartheid ended. Speaking with him, I tried to connect the idea that he was responsible in some profound way for this paradigm shift within the country. He simply said, “I had a great team. We had a mission and had some success,” and then he went on to a different subject. That was a profound insight for me, because I learned that President Ronald Reagan had given Amb. Perkins the rare opportunity to create policy on the ground given the deli- cate situation in the country and height- ened interest in the U.S. Congress. Mymeeting with Amb. Perkins would be the beginning of a remarkable relation- ship that informedmy decision to become a servant leader as Amb. Perkins modeled in his own life’s work. Mymission has been, and continues to be, to build on the solid foundation he established. One of my proudest moments occurred during TLG’s 40th anniversary event when, in his remarks, Amb. Perkins recognizedmy mother and acknowledgedmy work as TLG president: I hope this short narrative conveys my appreciation for Amb. Perkins’ targeted efforts to invest in others, his interest in building strong societies as a public servant, and his commitment to excellence in international affairs. I am, indeed, most grateful for having shared many meaningful years with this giant of a figure who was recognized this year with the American Foreign Service Association’s Award for Lifetime Contri- butions to American Diplomacy. n Remembering Ambassador Perkins in His Hometown BY NIELS MARQUARDT Niels Marquardt is the first diplomat-in- residence at Lewis & Clark College in Port- land, Oregon. During a 33-year diplomatic career, he served as ambassador twice. K udos to AFSA both for hon- oring Ambassador Edward J. Perkins this year with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and for the wonder- ful interview with him (December FSJ ). With his sad passing on Nov. 7, it was timely and fitting to see him so honored as the trailblazer he was. I amwriting now to make readers aware of activities intended to honor and remember Amb. Perkins here in Port- land, Oregon, his former hometown. He graduated from Portland’s Jefferson High School and first attended college at the city’s Lewis & Clark College. Several months ago, I was privileged to speak by telephone with him, to make sure that he was personally on board with our efforts here to secure his local legacy. He enthusiastically endorsed both ideas we discussed. The first was to create an “Ambassador Edward J. Perkins Speaker Series” at Lewis & Clark. We aim to offer annual lectures in his honor by renowned international affairs scholars and practitioners. Lewis & Clark is a small, liberal arts college with a focus on international affairs, diversity and inclusion, and the environment and sustainability. It also offers one of the oldest and strongest overseas study programs of any college in America. At present, about one-third of Lewis & Clark’s 2,000 students are people of color, representing significant progress since Ed Perkins’ pathbreaking, early days on campus! For more detailed information about this initiative, and to make tax-deductible contributions online, go to: LewisandClark-initiative. The second idea we discussed was renaming Jefferson High School after Amb. Perkins. While we are not advo- cating this, it seems obvious that having Oregon’s only majority African Ameri- can high school named after a lifetime slaveholder—however distinguished he may be otherwise—may be offensive to some. It, therefore, seems quite possible that the Portland Public School Board may decide to rename the school. If they do, there is a strong argument for renam- ing it after the man who is arguably the school’s most distinguished graduate, Amb. Perkins. Any reader who wishes to register sup- port for this idea may send a short email to PPS Board Member Amy Kohnstamm: . With these efforts we hope that Amb. Perkins’ remarkable life and distinguished career will also be remembered here in Oregon, where so much of it began. n Find the interview with Ambassador Perkins, conducted shortly before his death, in the December Journal . For his obituary, see page 86.