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African Americans in U.S. Foreign Policy

African Americans in U.S. Foreign Policy: From the Era of Frederick Douglass to the Age of Obama

Linda Heywood
Allison Blakely
Charles Stith
Joshua C. Yesnowitz
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    African Americans in U.S. Foreign Policy
    Book Description:

    Bookended by remarks from African American diplomats Walter C. Carrington and Charles Stith, the essays in this volume use close readings of speeches, letters, historical archives, diaries, and memoirs of policymakers and newly available FBI files to confront much-neglected questions related to race and foreign relations in the United States. Why, for instance, did African Americans profess loyalty and support for the diplomatic initiatives of a nation that undermined their social, political, and economic well-being through racist policies and cultural practices? Other contributions explore African Americans' history in the diplomatic and consular services and the influential roles of cultural ambassadors like Joe Louis and Louis Armstrong. The volume concludes with an analysis of the effects on race and foreign policy in the administration of Barack Obama. Groundbreaking and critical, African Americans in U.S. Foreign Policy expands on the scope and themes of recent collections to offer the most up-to-date scholarship to students in a range of disciplines, including U.S. and African American history, Africana studies, political science, and American studies.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09683-9
    Subjects: Political Science, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface: Reflections of a Black Ambassador
    (pp. ix-xxii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    For observers both stateside and abroad, the election of Barack Obama evoked the promise of legendary soul singer Sam Cooke’s song that “Change Is Gonna Come.” Having an African American commander in chief, according to this line of thought, would not only result in demonstrable policy shifts in American foreign policy but would also convey a powerful message to the rest of the world. Because of his cultural heritage, Obama would pursue a global strategy that was sensitive to the needs of the vulnerable and underrepresented, and the willingness of the American public to elect a person of color to...

  6. Part I: Early African American Diplomatic Appointments:: Contributions and Constraints

    • 1 Blacks in the U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Services, 1869–1924
      (pp. 13-29)

      The spectacular appointments of two successive black secretaries of state at the turn of the twenty-first century was an almost startling occurrence that for most of the public, both in the United States and abroad, first brought awareness of a significant role of blacks in the diplomatic service. A full century earlier black Americans were playing a very conspicuous part during the formative period of the U.S. Foreign Service, however, and these grand achievements at the dawn of the twenty-first century cannot be fully understood nor appreciated without knowledge of this earlier history. To its credit, the U.S. Department of...

    • 2 A New Negro Foreign Policy: The Critical Vision of Alain Locke and Ralph Bunche
      (pp. 30-57)

      For an America that prides itself on never having been an empire, it is remarkable how sensitive Americans are when African Americans dare to tell us what our approach should be when it comes to Africa. A kinship between the African and the black American that is routinely denied, or if admitted is labeled as the basest essentialism, becomes threatening once the African American subject challenges America about its foreign policy toward Africa. That’s because the black American embodies discourses of race and colonialism whenever she or he steps into the foreign policy debates of the United States and Europe....

    • 3 Carl Rowan and the Dilemma of Civil Rights, Propaganda, and the Cold War
      (pp. 58-80)

      Anyone interested in the fascinating, convoluted, and intricately interwoven connections between race, the Cold War, and American foreign policy could do little better than starting with the career of Carl T. Rowan. Like many African Americans, Rowan felt himself constrained, constricted, confused, and pushed into any number of different corners during the Cold War. With any sort of domestic protest looked upon as suspiciously “un-American,” participants in the civil rights movement came under the unforgiving glare of America’s growing internal security system. Criticisms of U.S. policies, particularly those related to matters abroad, instantly brought forth the wrath of the American...

  7. Part II: African American Participation in Foreign Affairs through Civil Society:: Religious, Military, and Cultural Institutions in Foreign Policy

    • 4 Reconstruction’s Revival: The Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention and the Roots of Black Populist Diplomacy
      (pp. 83-108)

      In May 1899 Reverend Emmanuel K. Love stood before a statewide coalition of black Georgians in Atlanta’s Mount Zion Baptist Church. Like many of the black women and men gathered before him, Love had been born enslaved. He had witnessed the tumultuous years of the Civil War, and when the war ended, the Reconstruction Acts for black emancipation, equal protection, and suffrage guided his path from a farm in Marion, Alabama, to Augusta Institute, a freedmen’s school in Georgia. After graduating from the institute in 1877, Love became a leading representative for black Georgians. He worked as a state missionary...

    • 5 White Shame/Black Agency: Race as a Weapon in Post–World War I Diplomacy
      (pp. 109-128)

      On October 5, 1920, an American military policeman arrested a British subject “(negro)” in a café in Antwerp, Belgium, believing he was an African American soldier at large. Containing the presence and activities of African American soldiers in Europe during and after the First World War was an unspoken yet urgent preoccupation of the military. The desire was that the practice of race in Europe look and feel like that in America, a system known as Jim Crow. In this racial system African American soldiers did not casually sit in cafés and enjoy the company and civil graces of larger...

    • 6 Goodwill Ambassadors: African American Athletes and U.S. Cultural Diplomacy, 1947–1968
      (pp. 129-139)

      During the early days of the Cold War, international condemnation of U.S. domestic race relations was a major hindrance to American foreign policy objectives. Consequently, the State Department began to send prosperous African Americans on overseas goodwill tours to showcase African Americans as the preeminent citizens of the African diaspora rather than as victims of racism. These tours were designed to undermine anti-Americanism as a foundation for racial and political identity formation throughout the African diaspora. Because sports were, arguably, the most publicly visible American institution to integrate, athletes were prominently featured in the State Department campaigns. Between 1947 and...

    • 7 The Paradox of Jazz Diplomacy: Race and Culture in the Cold War
      (pp. 140-174)

      In January 1965, Jazz Night at the Blue Bird Youth Café in Moscow was in full swing. Soviet club managers closely monitored the club’s clientele, and audiences were carefully selected by Soviet cultural authorities. Those attending included U.S. cultural attaché Ernest G. Weiner, who had visited Jazz Night with a select group of people at the invitation of a Soviet friend. Weiner characterized the café as though it had a mystical aura. He commented that it was ensconced “on a narrow and dimly lit street” and gave “practically no outward indication of its existence.” It was especially alluring at night,...

  8. Part III: The Advent of the Age of Obama:: African Americans and the Making of American Foreign Policy

    • 8 African American Representatives in the United Nations: From Ralph Bunche to Susan Rice
      (pp. 177-199)

      In a matter of days Americans saw the previously inconspicuous ambassador Susan Rice catapulted from the intricate corridors of United Nations negotiations to the national media spotlight, articulating the consciousness and competence of the U.S. foreign policy establishment on the heels of an international crisis. Her inescapable televised image would penetrate the campaign politics of that September 2012 and linger in the recollections and recriminations of Capitol Hill combatants for many months to come. Although the substance of her statement and her claims about a terrorist attack on American embassy staff in Libya led to incendiary debate and enormous controversy...

    • 9 Obama, African Americans, and Africans: The Double Vision
      (pp. 200-212)

      Early in 2012, columnist E.J. Dionne raised the question “Can a Messiah Win Twice?” Looking back wistfully on Obama’s first presidential campaign, he commented:

      Four years ago this week, a young and inspirational senator who promised to turn history’s page swept the Iowa caucuses and began his irresistible rise to the White House. Barack Obama was unlike any candidate the country had seen before. More than a mere politician, he became a cultural icon, “the biggest celebrity in the world,” as a John McCain ad accurately, if mischievously, described him. He was the object of near adoration among the young,...

    • Epilogue: The Impact of African Americans on U.S. Foreign Policy
      (pp. 213-224)

      I have spent a good part of my adult life helping to affect public policy. For most of those years it was as a civic leader from the outside. During the Clinton administration, however, I worked inside the formal structures of government, first as an informal adviser to the president and as a member of policy working groups dealing with domestic matters and foreign affairs, and later as U.S. ambassador to the United Republic of Tanzania. As someone who has been intimately involved in policy formulation and action, I know that the end game in development of public policy is...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 225-230)
  10. Index
    (pp. 231-241)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 242-242)