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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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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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Harry Belafonte attends the “Sing Your Song” premiere in New York in 2011.

MPTV/Reuters

The beloved Harry Belafonte

Born in Harlem in 1927, Harry Belafonte’s voice carried around the world.

You can read about his meteoric rise and his importance in the American civil rights movement here. He died in New York on Tuesday.

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Facebook civil rights audit; TikTok in Hong Kong
YouTube

Facebook civil rights audit; TikTok in Hong Kong

Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, provides his perspective on technology news:

Will the new audit of Facebook civil rights practices change the way the company operates?

Yes. It came under a lot of pressure from civil rights activists who organized an advertising boycott. And then an internal audit on Facebook's effect on civil rights came out. It was quite critical. Those two things, one after the other, will surely lead to changes at the company.

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