African American U.S. Envoys, Diplomatic Ministers, and Ambassadors Since 1869

United States of America Embassy seal
United States of America Embassy seal

Since 1776 when the United States sent its first envoy to France, men and later women diplomats have been assigned to be the nation’s offical representatives in global capitals and to international organiations where they are responsible for major foreign policy portfolios. Prior to 1893 those individuals were called (Diplomatic) Ministers and Envoys. Since that date they have been called Ambassadors. Regardless of the name used, these individuals have been Chiefs of Mission which means they head U.S. diplomatic delegations to their respective nations and organizations. The list below includes the African American women and men who have served in these diplomatic capacities beginning with Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett who was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant to be Minister Resident and Consul General to Haiti in 1869.Photo of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

There are other 19th Century diplomatic officials, however, who have entries on but who were never envoys, ministers, or ambassadors. They are William A. Liedesdorff who served as Vice Consul at Yerba Buena (now San Francisco) in 1845 when California was still part of Mexico, John L. Waller who was Consul at Tamatave, Madagascar from 1891 to 1894, Miflin Wistar Gibbs who held the same post from 1897 to 1901, Richard T. Greener who was Consul at Vladivostok, Russia from 1901 to 1905, and James Weldon Johnson, who was appointed Consul to Puerto Cabello, Venezuela and later Corinto, Nicargua. William Henry Hunt holds the distinction of having served in more diplomatic poste than any other African American. During his thirty-one year career he served as Consul in Tamatave, Madagascar, following Mifflin W. Gibbs there. He also served in France, Guadeloupe, the Azores, and Liberia.

Since 1949 African American ambassadors have represented the United States in nearly 100 nations as well as before Internatioal Organizations such as the United Nations and the African Union. Their names are included in specific categories as well. The entire list of African American U.S. Envoys, Ministers, and Ambassadors appears below. The list of Ambassadors includes all but the following four latest Ambassadors: Stafford Fitzgerald Haney, Costa Rica, 2015; Crystal Nix-Hines, United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, 2014; Michael A. Lawson, U.S. Representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), 2014; and, Ronald Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative, 2009. Their bios will be added below soon.

We at would like to thank Ambassador Sylvia Gaye Stanfield, Carlton McLellen, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) and the dozens of volunteers from across the United States who helped make this page possible.

America’s Black Ambassadors: A Historical Snapshot 

United States Ambassadors to the United Nations, 1977–

Andrew Young, 1977-1979

Donald McHenry, 1979-1981

Edward Perkins, 1992-1993

Susan Rice, 2009-2013

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, 2021-

United States Envoys and Ministers, 1869-1935

Ebenezer Don Carlos Basset, Haiti, 1869

John Mercer Langston, Haiti, 1877

James Milton Turner, Liberia, 1878

Henry Highland Garnet, Liberia, 1881

John E.W. Thompson, Haiti, 1885

Frederick Douglass, Haiti, 1889

Lester Aglar Walton, Liberia, 1935

United States Ambassadors Since 1949

Edward R. Dudley, Liberia, 1949

Jesse D. Locker, Liberia, 1953

Richard L. Jones, Liberia, 1955

John Howard Morrow, Guinea, 1959

Clifton R. Wharton, Sr., Norway, 1961

Will Mercer Cook, Niger, 1961, Senegal, 1964, Gambia, 1965

Carl T. Rowan, Finland, 1963

Clinton E. Knox, Benin, 1964

Patricia Roberts Harris, Luxembourg, 1965

Franklin Williams, Ghana, 1965

Hugh Smythe, Syrian Arab Republic, 1965, Malta, 1967

Elliott Skinner, Burkina Faso, 1966

Samuel C. Adams, Niger, 1968

Terence Todman, Chad, 1969, Guinea, 1972, Costa Rica, 1974, Spain, 1978, Denmark, 1983, Argentina, 1989

Samuel Z. Westerfield, Liberia, 1969

Clarence Clyde Ferguson, Jr., Uganda, 1970

Jerome Heartwell Holland, Sweden, 1970

John Reinhardt, Nigeria, 1971, First director of USIA

Charles J. Nelson, Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland, 1971

W. Beverly Carter, Tanzania, 1972, Liberia, 1976

O. Rudolph Aggrey, Senegal and Gambia, 1973, Romania, 1977

David B. Bolen, Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland, 1974, German Democratic Republic (East Germany), 1977

Theodore R. Britton, Jr., Barbados and Grenada, 1974

Charles A. James, Niger, 1976

Ronald D. Palmer, Togo, 1976, Malaysia, 1981, Mauritius, 1986

Wilbert J. LeMelle, Kenya and Seychelles, 1977

Ulric Haynes, Algeria, 1977

Richard K. Fox, Trinidad & Tobago, 1977

William B. Jones, Haiti, 1977

Mabel M. Smythe, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, 1977

Maurice D. Bean, Burma, 1977

Anne F. Holloway, Mali, 1979

Horace G. Dawson, Botswana, 1979

Walter Carrington, Senegal, 1980, Nigeria, 1993

Barbara M. Watson, Malaysia, 1980

Melvin H. Evans, Trinidad and Tobago, 1981

Gerald E. Thomas, Guyana, 1981, Kenya, 1983

John Burroughs, Malawi, 1981, Uganda, 1988

Howard K. Walker, Togo, 1982, Madagascar and Comoros, 1989

George E. Moose, Benin, 1983, Senegal, 1988

Arthur W. Lewis, Sierra Leone, 1983

Edward Perkins, Liberia, 1985, South Africa, 1986, Australia, 1993

Irvin Hicks, Seychelles, 1985, Ethiopia, 1994

Cynthia Shepard Perry, Sierra Leone, 1986, Burundi, 1989

Ruth Washington, Gambia, 1989

Leonard O. Spearman, Sr., Lesotho, 1990

Aurelia Erskine Brazeal, Micronesia, 1990, Kenya, 1993, Ethiopia, 2001

Steven J. Rhodes, Zimbabwe, 1990

Arlene Render, Gambia, 1990, Zambia, 1996, Cote d’Ivoire, 2001

Charles R. Baquet, III, Djibouti, 1991

Johnnie Carson, Uganda, 1991, Zimbabwe, 1995, Kenya, 1999

Kenton Wesley Keith, Qatar, 1992

Ruth A. Davis, Benin, 1992

Joseph Monroe Segars, Cape Verde, 1992

Leslie M. Alexander, Mauritius, 1993, Ecuador, 1996

Howard F. Jeter, Botswana, 1993, Nigeria 2000

Sidney Williams, Bahamas, 1994

Johnny Young, Sierra Leone, 1989, Togo, 1994, Slovenia, 2001

Carl B. Stokes, Seychelles, 1994

Jerome Gary Cooper, Jamaica, 1994

Bismark Myrick, Lesotho, 1995, Liberia, 1999

Mosina H. Jordan, Central African Republic, 1995

James A. Joseph, South Africa, 1995

John F. Hicks, Eritrea, 1996

Sharon P. Wilkinson, Burkina Faso, 1996, Mozambique, 2000

Shirley E. Barnes, Madagascar, 1998

William D. Clarke, Eritrea,1998

George Williford Boyce Haley, Gambia, 1998

Elizabeth McKune, Qatar, 1998

Robert C. Perry, Central African Republic

George McDade Staples, Rwanda, 1998, Cameroon/Equatorial Guinea, 2001

Charles R. Stith, Tanzania, 1998

Harriet L. Elam-Thomas, Senegal, 1999

Gregory L. Johnson, Swaziland, 1999

Delano Eugene Lewis, Sr., South Africa, 1999

Carol Moseley-Braun, New Zealand and Samoa, 1999

Sylvia Gaye Stanfield, Brunei, 1999

Diane E. Watson, Micronesia, 1999

Pamela Bridgewater, Benin, 2000, Ghana, 2005, Jamaica, 2009

Roy L. Austin, Trinidad and Tobago, 2001

Mattie R. Sharpless, Central African Republic, 2001

Wanda L. Nesbitt, Madagascar, 2001, Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia, 2010

James Irving Gadsen, Iceland, 2002

James David McGee, Swaziland, 2002, Madagascar, 2004, Zimbabwe, 2007

Larry Palmer, Honduras, 2002

Joseph Huggins, Botswana, 2002

Richard Lewis Baltimore, Oman, 2002

Charles Aaron Ray, Cambodia, 2002, Zimbabwe, 2009

Gail Denise Mathieu, Niger, 2002, Namibia, 2007

Harry K. Thomas, Jr., Bangladesh, 2003, Philippines, 2009, Zimbabwe, 2015

Roland W. Bullen, Guyana, 2003

Margarita Ragsdale, Djibouti, 2003

June Carter Perry, Lesotho, 2004, Sierra Leone, 2007

Jendayi E. Frazier, South Africa, 2004

Roger D. Pierce, Cape Verde, 2005

Bernadette Allen, Niger, 2006

Eric M. Bost, South Africa 2006

Gayleatha B. Brown, Benin, 2006

Clyde Bishop, Marshall Islands, 2006

Maurice S. Parker, Swaziland, 2007

John Withers, Albania, 2007

Joyce A. Barr, Namibia, 2007

Eunice Reddick, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, 2007

Barry L. Wells, Gambia, 2007

Marcia S. Bernicat, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, 2008, Bangladesh, 2015

John Jones, Guyana, 2008

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Liberia, 2008

C. Steven McGann, The Fiji Republics, 2008

Bisa Williams, Niger, 2009

Nicole Avant, Bahamas, 2009

Mary Jo Wills, Mauritius, 2009

Alfonso E. Lenhardt, Tanzania, 2009

Teddy B. Taylor, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, 2009

Beatrice Welters, Trinidad and Tobago, 2010

Helen Reed-Rowe, Palau, 2010

Susan Page, South Sudan, 2011

Pamela Spratlen, Kyrgyzstan, 2011, Uzbekistan, 2015

Adrienne S. O’Neal, Cape Verde, 2011

Frankie A Reed, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga & Tuvala, 2011

Sue K. Brown, Montenegro, 2012

Malika James, Swaziland, 2012

Gina Albercrombie-Winstanley, Malta, 2012

Tuli Mushingi, Burkina Faso, 2013

Patrick Gaspard, South Africa, 2013

Dwight L. Bush, Morocco, 2014

Cynthia Akuettah, Gabon, 2014

Brian A. Nichols, Peru, 2014

Todd D. Robinson, Guatemala, 2014

Stafford Fitzgerald Haney, Costa Rica, 2015

United States Ambassadors to Global and Regional Organizations

Betty Eileen King, ECOSOC/UN, 1997

Pierre-Richard Prosper, At-Large: Office of War Crimes, 2001

Francis X. Taylor, At-Large: Coordinator for Counterterrorism, 2001

Cindy L. Courville, African Union, 2006

Bonnie D. Jenkins, Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, 2009

Ronald “Ron” Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative, 2009

William Kennard, European Union, 2010

Michael A. Battle, African Union, 2010

Ertharin Cousin, USUN/Rome, 2010

Suzan J. Cook: At-Large: International Religious Freedom, 2011

Rueben E. Brigety, II, African Union, 2013

Daniel W. Yohannes, Organiztaion for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2013

Robert A. Wood, U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmanent and U.S. Special Representative for Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Issues, 2014