Monday, November 20, 2017
The Ambassadors
By Yussuf Simmonds (Managing Editor)
Published January 8, 2009

"They represent(ed) the United States throughout the world"

United States ambassadors are high-ranking accredited diplomats who serve as the official representative of the U.S. to foreign countries, international organizations and sometimes as worldwide troubleshooters with responsibilities for a specific issue, such as war crimes or terrorism, etc. They operate under the direction of the Secretary of State who is the "chief" ambassador/the top diplomat for the U.S. and heads the Department of State. The Secretary also represents the U.S. worldwide in foreign affairs.

Edward R. Dudley was the first Black person to represent the U.S. with the full rank of an ambassador; he was the ambassador to Liberia. There he met a host of his fellow countrymen who had attained the rank of minister–a grade level below that of an ambassador. He held the post for five years, resigning to accept an appointment as a judge in New York City.

General Colin Powell was appointed the nation's first Black Secretary of State in 2001 and represented the U.S. during the "9/11" attacks. As the nation's top diplomat, he delivered the infamous "smoking-gun" address to the United Nations–based on faulty intelligence–to justify the invasion of Iraq, ignoring massive protest rallies and public outrage throughout the world. He had served in the U.S. Army for 35 years and rose to become the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the head of the military. Powell served as the National Security Advisor in the Reagan Administration and a four-year term as Secretary of State in the administration of President George W. Bush.

Condoleezza Rice followed Powell as the first Black woman appointed as Secretary of State in the Bush administration in 2005, a position she currently holds. She dutifully defended the invasion of Iraq and the current occupation. She implemented and articulated the president's policies and skillfully changed the justification for the ill-conceived invasion each time it proved to be inconsistent with the facts–one of which was weapons of mass destruction, though they were never found five years after the invasion and subsequent occupation. Rice is skilled in European and Russian affairs, and previously served as the president's national security advisor. She was also the provost at Stanford University and is a proficient pianist. Andrew Young left Congress to become the first Black U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 1977 during the Carter administration. During his tenure, relations with African countries were at an all-time high due to his outreach efforts. Some of his statements were considered controversial and made headlines. He was reportedly forced to resign for communicating with the Palestine Liberation Organization, which many years later became normal diplomatic discourse. After leaving the U.N., Young became the mayor of Atlanta, Georgia. A School of Policy Studies and a Center for international Affairs are named in his honor at the Georgia State University and Morehouse College respectively. He is also an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.

Donald McHenry followed Young as U.S. ambassador at the U.N. and remained in that post until the end of the Carter administration in 1981. Though not as well known as his predecessor, he had been a top deputy at the U.N. mission and a career diplomat.

Mercer Cook–U.S. ambassador to Gambia, Niger and Senegal–He was considered a versatile ambassador who served as the nation's top representative in three African nations. He did graduate studies in Paris, France and traveled extensively in Africa.

Clarence Clyde Ferguson Jr.–U.S. ambassador to Uganda–He was a professor of Law at Rutgers University and the dean of Howard University School of Law. His tenure as ambassador of Sweden was a brief diversion of serving his country before he returned to Harvard University. In addition, he served as ambassador-at-large and coordinated the relief effort during the Nigerian Civil War.

Patricia Roberts Harris–U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg–She was the first Black woman in U.S. history to be appointed to the rank of ambassador and also an alternate delegate to the U.N. She held three different cabinet posts in the Carter administration: as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Health, Education and Welfare; and Health and Human Services; and was the first Black woman to enter the line of succession to the president.

Dr. Jerome H. Holland–U.S. ambassador to Sweden–Prior to his service as ambassador, he was the president of Hampton Institute, Virginia for ten years. Besides being a noted educator, he was a staunch civil rights advocate who used education as a tool to advance the cause of civil rights during the turbulent 1960s.

Richard L. Jones–U.S. ambassador to Liberia–He was also an alternate delegate to the U.N. who served in World Wars I and II, and was a successful businessman before entering the foreign service. After his tenure as ambassador, he returned to Liberia with the U.S. Mission to the 11th General Assembly.

Clinton E. Knox–U.S. ambassador to Dahomey and Norway–He was a career diplomat with over 20 years in the foreign service before being appointed ambassador to Dahomey. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard University and taught at Morgan State College prior to joining the State Department. He also served in the U.S. mission to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an experience that propelled him to the ambassadorship in Norway.

Jesse D. Locker–U.S. ambassador to Liberia–Educated as an attorney, he practiced law for about 35 years before entering politics serving as a city councilman and president pro tem in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was appointed to serve out the term of Ambassador Dudley who had been appointed a judge.

John H. Morrow–U.S. ambassador to Guinea–After 25 years as a teacher, he was assigned to a commission on government security which paved the way for his appointment to become an ambassador. At the end of his term, he remained at the U.N. as a member of the U.S. delegation to the General Assembly and later on, as minister and permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Carol Moseley-Braun–U.S. ambassador to New Zealand–Trained as an attorney, she was the first Black woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. After serving one six-year term, she was appointed ambassador to New Zealand during the Clinton administration. When the administration changed in Washington, D.C., she returned and unsuccessfully ran for president. Presently she practices law and stays busy on the lecture circuit.

Edward Perkins–U.S. ambassador to Australia, Liberia, South Africa and the United Nations–He had been a career foreign service diplomat when appointed ambassador to Liberia, but his crowning achievement was as the ambassador to South Africa when that country was in the throes of apartheid. There, his presence helped destroy the myth of white supremacy. He went on to serve as ambassador to Australia and the United Nations during the Clinton administration.

Carl T. Rowan–U.S. ambassador to Finland–Before he was appointed ambassador, he was a nationally syndicated journalist and had been a deputy assistant Secretary of State in the Kennedy administration. Rowan served as a U.N. delegate during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After his term as ambassador to Finland, he became well known as the director of United States Information Agency (USIA), the U.S. world public relations firm.

Elliot P. Skinner–U. S. ambassador to Upper Volta–He was an assistant professor of anthropology at New York University and a prolific author before and after his tenure as an ambassador. Skinner was born Trinidad, the West Indies, and traveled extensively throughout the French colonies following his academic pursuits. He also earned a Ph.D. from Colombia University and was the first Black to receive tenure there.

Hugh H. Smythe–U. S. ambassador to Syria–He was serving as deputy chairman of the Sociology department in Brooklyn when he received his ambassadorial appointment. In addition, he served as a visiting professor of sociology and anthropology at Yamaguchi National University in Japan after earning his Ph.D. in anthropology from Northwestern University. Along with his wife, a school principal, he published a study of Nigeria after extensive travel throughout the region.

Terrence A. Todman–U.S. ambassador to Chad, Denmark, Argentina and Spain–Not only was he a career diplomat, he was also the "go-to" ambassador at the state department. He was one of the nation's best-known international figures having been tapped to represent the Organization of American States (OAS) during one of the many crises in Haiti. He was one of the few diplomats to hold the title Career Ambassador after 41 years of service. A native of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, he served in the U.S. Army and the Virgin Islands day was proclaimed in his honor in Washington, D.C.

Congresswoman Diane Watson–U.S. ambassador to Micronesia–She exemplifies a lifetime of public service having been a school board member in the Los Angeles Unified School District, a distinguished state senator in the California Legislature and the ambassador to Micronesia during the Clinton administration. She has been a career educator and is presently a member of the U.S. Congress.

Clifford Wharton--U.S. ambassador to Norway–He was a career foreign service officer for three decades before his appointment as an ambassador. He served as consul at Antananarivo (formerly Tananarive) Madagascar, first secretary to Lisbon, Portugal, minister to Rumania and was the first Black diplomat to head a U.S. delegation to a European country.

Dr. Samuel Z. Westerfield–U.S. ambassador to Liberia–Before being named ambassador, he was deputy assistant secretary in the State Department for African affairs. As a trained economist, he was actively engaged at Howard, West Virginia State, Lincoln and Atlanta universities, both as a faculty member and in research projects. In addition to ambassador, he held several other posts in the State Department.

Franklin H. Williams–U.S. ambassador to Ghana–Before entering the foreign service, he served as an assistant to Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP and helped restructure its branch offices in nine states. As an attorney, he was recognized as a constitutional scholar often appearing before the U.S. Supreme Court. He also served as U.S. representative to the Economic council of the United Nations.

Susan Rice–U.S. ambassador-elect to the United Nations–She grew up on the edges of government, being born in Washington, D.C. Though she was an athlete, foreign service beckoned her–she served on the National Security Council and as assistant Secretary of State in the Clinton administration. As a foreign policy advisor for President-elect Barack Obama during the campaign, she is at the top of the list to become his ambassador to the U.N.

Categories: Legends

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