The Foreign Service Journal, May 2013

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 affairs. 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 Thursday Luncheon Group at the Department of State. O ver the past five years, there have been many articles profiling 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 affairs. To address this problem, and as part of a wider effort to organize a celebration of African-American leadership in foreign affairs, 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 first African-American Secretary of State; and his successor, Condoleezza Rice, the first 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 affairs. But as we went further back in time, we found major gaps in the record. The Ralph Bunche Library and the Office of the Historian, both at State, were helpful in filling in some of these gaps. We also reached out to members of the Thursday Luncheon Group (the State Department’s oldest African-American affinity 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 financial report, we uncovered the names of some key firsts in the field, as well as a database that catalogued all African-American ambassadors up to that year. CELEBRATING OUR PAST, UPLIFTING OUR FUTURE