The Foreign Service Journal, April 2022

64 APRIL 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL FILMS I: They Persisted By Jane Carpenter-Rock In the summer of 2002, I attended an informal backyard barbecue in Northeast Washington, D.C., organized by Leaford Williams, a retired diplomat and family friend, to welcome me and several others into the Foreign Service. It was a delightful affair with about 30 attendees and the best rum punch I have ever tasted. I had joined the State Department in April, and by the time of this June soiree, I was preparing to head to my first diplo- matic assignment in Johannesburg, South Africa. I was wide-eyed and eager to learn as much as I could. What distinguished this event from others was the fact that all of the attendees were African American diplomats, includ- ing Ambassador Terence Todman (who passed away in 2014). I’m embarrassed to say that I did not really know who Todman was. That day, I did not realize that battles had been waged and barriers broken by Ambassador Todman, Mr. Williams and others so that we could join their ranks. I did not understand the urgency they felt to ensure our nation continued to send representatives abroad that looked like America. The mood was jubilant, the conversa- tion light, and no one spoke of struggles, but we were quietly inheriting a legacy of service they had fought hard to estab- lish and maintain. I would eventually understand this over the course of my career, particularly after reading Michael Krenn’s book Black Diplomacy: African Americans and the State Department, 1945-69 (Routledge, 1999), but I wish I had learned it sooner. For this reason, I am grateful for the PBS documentary “The American Diplomat” by filmmaker Leola Calzolai-Stewart. Through compelling archival foot- age, beautiful historical photos, powerful academic analysis and touching family reflections, the film shares the stories of three towering figures in American diplomacy: Ambassador Edward Dudley, Ambassador Carl Rowan and Ambassador Terence Todman. It details how they, in their successive generations, worked for change inside the Department of State— change that benefited the institution and diplomats of color and added to the power of American diplomacy abroad. “The American Diplomat” fills a void onmany levels. Not only are most Ameri- cans unaware of the practice and impact of diplomacy; but most Americans, including State Department employees, are unaware that somany individuals confronted exclusion and discrimination within the diplomatic profession. In telling these sto- ries, the filmmaker paints a larger picture of an institution held accountable by its own employees to practice the values of freedom and equality it advocates abroad. The stories of Dudley, Rowan and Todman are also significant because they foreshadowed the experiences of many The filmmaker paints a larger picture of an institution held accountable by its own employees to practice the values of freedom and equality it advocates abroad. Reflections on “The American Diplomat” Directed by Leola Calzolai-Stewart, written by Ken Chowder, A Flowstate Films, LLC production for American Experience, aired Feb. 15, 2022, on PBS, wgbh/americanexperience/films/american-diplomat/.