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ABC News: Rice Laments Lack of Black Diplomats

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: I ‘Rarely See Somebody Who Looks Like Me’

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today lamented the dearth of blacks serving as diplomats in the Foreign Service.

rice powell

Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice are the only blacks to serve as America’s top diplomat.

(ap)

“I want to see a Foreign Service that looks as if black Americans are a part of this great country,” Rice told an assembly of professors and administrators during her keynote address to the Annual Conference of the White House Initiative on National Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Washington. “I have lamented that I can go into a meeting at the Department of State and, as a matter of fact, I can go into a whole day of meetings at the Department of State and actually rarely see somebody who looks like me. And that’s just not acceptable.”

Rice follows Colin Powell, her predecessor, as the only blacks to serve as America’s top diplomat.

In order to recruit more people of color into the Foreign Service, Rice said she has teamed up with Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., who represents Harlem, to increase the number of Rangel Fellows.

Rangel Fellows receive scholarships for graduate school in international affairs and internships on Capitol Hill and at a U.S. Embassy. After graduation, the fellows are committed to serve as Foreign Service officers for at least three years.

“The program encourages the application of members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service and those with financial need,” according to the program’s Web site.

The aim, Rice said today, is to target schools with diverse populations “to interest them in foreign affairs when they are young, to give them the training and support to learn languages and to learn about the world and then to go out into that world to be a part of the great global debate, challenge, and difficulty too that we face in the international system,” Rice said.

Rice said that, as part of that effort, the State Department has placed diplomats in residence at many historically black colleges and universities.

She said she hopes these programs will help recruit more black students into the Foreign Service. “I’m counting on each and every one of you to be a recruiter,” she told the crowd.

“If America is going to stand for the belief that multiethnic democracy can work, and if we are going to continue to show the world that multiethnic democracy is, in fact, workable, and by the way, showing that to a world where very often difference is too often still a license to kill, then all of America will have to be involved in that task,” Rice said.

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