205. Letter From Representative Charles B. Rangel to President Carter1

Dear Mr. President:

I have recently returned from a Congressional delegation trip covering ten countries in twenty-two days. I am certain that your Staff Assistant, James Free, who accompanied us on the trip, has informed you of the tremendous success we had, not only in impressing heads of state and foreign ministers of the United States’ deep concern for peace and stability in the Pacific area, but, equally important, by our concern for cooperation to stop the flow of narcotic drugs in our international society. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Adolph Dubs, who also was on this trip, is in a better position to give a more detailed report on our accomplishments.

My main purpose in writing you is to express my concern over the fact that during my entire trip we encountered no minority Foreign [Page 819] Service personnel in our American embassies in the countries we visited, the sole exception being the newly appointed Director of the United States Information Service in the Philippines, Dr. Horace Dawson. As a Black American and member of Congress this failure to see minorities represented in our Foreign Service disturbed and ultimately embarrassed me for I recognize that our failure to provide minority input into the development of our foreign policy in an area of the world whose people are colored, is ultimately an inhibition to the development of effective foreign policy.

The Congressional Black Caucus, along with leaders of national black associations has had many discussions with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about the need to bring in qualified people to alleviate the glaring absence of minorities in policy-making positions within the State Department.

Your administration is to be applauded for the strong actions you have taken to correct this gross injustice that has been with us over the years. Nevertheless, every member of our delegation felt some sense of uneasiness as we discussed the sensitive issues involving development in Third World nations with Asians and Indians and other people of color, yet not one Black, Hispanic or American of color was ever included in the presentations made to our delegation.

I did not publicly raise this question at each Mission because I really hoped that our next stop would prove my assumption to be without substance. But, Mr. President, after Tokyo, Japan; Port Moresby, New Guinea; Canberra, Australia; Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Bangkok, Thailand; New Delhi, India; Tehran, Iran; and London, England, I was forced to recognize that despite the years of effort to include a significant number of minorities in our Foreign Service we have made little or no progress. This is a matter I bring to your attention because I know you are concerned with our developing a more effective foreign policy towards the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America as well as Asia and you will appreciate my fear that this effort may be inhibited by the failure to exhibit the multi-racial nature of our friends in our Foreign Service. I know that Secretary Vance is making a great effort to implement an effective affirmative action program in the Department of State but wanted to impress upon you the need for urgency to correct this glaring racial imbalance.

Even though this is only one aspect of this very worthwhile trip, I just cannot believe that those briefings and presentations you would be receiving in connection with our Congressional investigation would be complete without my bringing this sad fact to your attention.

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I will look forward to receiving your reaction to my concerns and a description of what is being done to increase the number of Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities in our Foreign Service.

Very truly yours,

Charles B. Rangel2
Member of Congress
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Under Secretary for Management (M), 1977–1978, Box 8, Chron February 1978. No classification marking. Copies were sent to Vance, Representative Lester Wolff (D–NY), Adolph Dubs, James Free, and Ed Palmer. An unknown hand wrote at the top of the letter, “still pending as of 6/[illegible]/78 according to [illegible]?”
  2. Rangel signed “Charlie” above this typed signature.