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Condoleezza Rice

Larry Downing/Reuters

Pioneering Black American leaders in US foreign policy

Who exactly are the people representing America to the world? Chances are they’re “pale, male, and Yale”, as the saying goes. Even in 2024, the US Foreign Service – especially in senior positions – doesn’t look like the rest of America. African Americans, people of color, and women continue to encounter barriers to influential roles.

However, some Black diplomats — like UN Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield — have broken this racial ceiling and helped reimagine what an American envoy can be. Her predecessors, through the sweep of US history, encountered discrimination and racism both domestically and abroad and left an indelible mark on US foreign policy. To mark the end of Black History Month, GZERO highlights the stories of a select few:

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Ari Winkleman

The Graphic Truth: Black representation in the US Congress

Since Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic "I have a dream" speech in August 1963, the number of Black Americans elected to the US Congress has increased dramatically. Still, it wasn't until 2019, more than half a century later, that the share of Black members serving in the House of Representatives reflected the percentage of Black Americans in the broader population: 12%. To date, only seven US states have sent Black representatives to serve in the US Senate.

Here's a look at Black representation in every US Congress since 1963.

Are identity politics a trap? A conversation with author and political scientist Yascha Mounk

Listen: Political scientist and author Yascha Mounk joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World Podcast to discuss his latest book, “The Identity Trap: A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time.” Mounk delves into the complicated dynamics of identity politics and challenges the conventional wisdom from the progressive left that focusing on identity and what makes us different from each other leads to a more equitable society. By highlighting our differences rather than shared values, Mounk argues, well-meaning liberals are exacerbating societal division and hindering progress toward greater equality. While acknowledging that our society is deeply imperfect and genuine injustices remain, Mounk unpacks the implications of identity politics and questions whether the current focus on identity truly serves the cause of inclusivity or social harmony.

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Activists descend on Washington, DC, to mark the 60th anniversary of MLK's "I have a dream" speech.

Riley Calanan

The March on Washington, 60 years later

Sixty years ago on Monday, over a quarter of a million people gathered in Washington, DC, for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a century after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream Speech,” galvanizing supporters of the Civil Rights Movement.

The march was initially conceived 20 years prior by labor leader Philip Randolph when African Americans were excluded from the job creation programs under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. By the late 1950s, with the Civil Rights Act stalled in Congress, Dr. King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference were also planning to march on Washington for freedom.

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Clarence Page: Why Black voting rights matter
Clarence Page: Why Black Voting Rights Matter | GZERO World

Clarence Page: Why Black voting rights matter

When the 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page had just finished high school.

This legislation changed the lives of Black people in America because Jim Crow laws had virtually prevented Blacks from voting in the South with impossible poll questions and literacy tests, he said in an interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

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The Graphic Truth: Black immigrants in the US

One in 10 Black Americans was born overseas, up by 3 percentage points since 2000. By 2050, the US Census Bureau estimates that immigrants will make up 15% percent of the Black population in America. The data shows that national origin reflects differing education and average household wealth levels. We look at a few data points distinguishing US- and foreign-born Black Americans.

Critical race theory and Black voting rights
Critical Race Theory and Black Voting Rights | GZERO World

Critical race theory and Black voting rights

Did conservative backlash against critical race theory influence Republican-led US states to pass new voting laws restricting Black Americans' access to the ballot box?

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page thinks so, to a certain extent, he tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

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Black voter suppression in 2022
Black Voter Suppression in 2022 | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Black voter suppression in 2022

Until the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Black people in America who wanted to vote faced impossible poll questions and literacy tests. But the Supreme Court gutted the law in 2013, allowing states to pass new voting legislation that progressives say restrict Black access to the ballot box.

The 2022 midterm elections will be the first major test of these laws — which Democrats in Congress are unlikely to be able to stop. How will this all affect Black turnout in November?

On this episode of GZERO World, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page tells Ian Bremmer that if Trump loyalists win in key states, their legislatures — not voters — may end up deciding the next US presidential race.What may happen in 2024 reminds him of 1876, when Page says the end of Reconstruction after the Civil War, along with a disputed presidential election, ushered in the Jim Crow laws that ended his ancestors' ability to vote in Alabama.

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