First image: Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch with Congressman Jim Walsh on his visit to Kathmandu, Nepal in 1990. Photo courtesy of Jim Walsh. Second image: American diplomat Dr. Ralph J. Bunche (right) with American delegate Eleanor Roosevelt (left) at a dinner given in his honor by the American Association for United Nations, 1949 (UN photo).

America’s diplomatic corps has not always been representative of the diversity of the nation’s population.

Diplomats of color have broken barriers and accomplished much, but their stories are often untold.  The battle for a more diverse and inclusive Department of State and Foreign Service is now being told through the museum’s Facing Diplomacy project, where we are curating academic resources and telling the stories of diverse diplomats.

Asian American Pacific Islander Diplomats

Sammy Lee Diving Diplomat

While Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Americans do not have a long history of serving as commissioned U.S. diplomats, these Americans have represented America as citizen diplomats and goodwill ambassadors for several decades.

NMAD has compiled resources highlighting the contributions Asian American and Pacific Islanders have made to American diplomacy, including primary and secondary sources, media, podcasts, and oral histories.

Above: A news clipping from Sammy Lee’s tour as a goodwill ambassador to Pakistan in 1954. Photo courtesy of Sammy Lee’s estate. Background Photo: Ambassador Donald Yamamoto during his tour in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Donald Yamamoto.

NMAD wishes to thank the Asian American Foreign Affairs Association (AAFAA)  for their support for this project.

African American Diplomats

African Americans have made important contributions to American diplomacy since the mid-1800s. 

NMAD has compiled resources that encompass the relationship between the Department of State and African Americans seeking a voice in their nation’s foreign policy, including primary and secondary sources, media, podcasts, and oral histories from former African American diplomats.

aurelia brazeal diverse diplomats

Aurelia Brazeal walks with Secret Service and U.S. Embassy officials on the lawn of President Anwar Sadat’s summer residence in Alexandria, Egypt in 1974. Brazeal would rise within the Foreign Service to become Ambassador to Kenya, Ethiopia, and the Federated States of Micronesia. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)

Background Photo: Ambassador Carl Rowan (left) talks to U.S. President Lyndon Johnson at the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan 21, 1964. Rowan, 38, currently the U.S. Ambassador to Finland, is chosen by the president to be the next director of the U.S. Information Agency (AP Photo).

NMAD wishes to thank James Dandridge, Dr. Michael Krenn, Dr. Carlton McLellan, and the State Department Affinity Groups, Blacks in Government (BIG) and the Thursday Luncheon Group for their support.

More Coming Soon

Check back for more stories of diverse figures in American diplomacy.