Ambassador John Reinhardt

This post was written by Kara Zelasko, the Senior Cultural Programs Associate at Meridian. It is a part of a blog series highlighting and acknowledging the work and contributions of Black diplomats during Black History Month. Meridian’s Center for Cultural Diplomacy (MCCD) owes a lot to the legacy of John Reinhardt, who in 1957 became a Foreign Service Officer for the United States Information Agency (USIA), which was merely a year after USIA launched its first cultural initiative. As the USIA expanded its cultural diplomacy efforts, Reinhardt continued to gain experience in the Foreign Service. Eventually, he returned to the...

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Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins

This post was contributed by Jezza Syed, GlobalConnect Programs and Data Management Fellow. It is a part of a blog series highlighting and acknowledging the work and contributions of Black diplomats during Black History Month. Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, born in Queens, NY, currently serves as the Incoming Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs in President Joe Biden’s Administration. Jenkins started her political career early as a Presidential Management Fellow under the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget. She advanced in her diplomatic and political career as a...

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Ralph J. Bunche – American political scientist, Academic, Diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize Recipient      

This post was contributed by Jezza Syed, GlobalConnect Programs and Data Management Fellow. It is a part of a blog series highlighting and acknowledging the work and contributions of Black diplomats during Black History Month. Ralph Johnson Bunche was born in Detroit, MI, on August 7, 1904. At a very young age, both his parents passed away, leaving Bunche and his two sisters with their grandmother to live in Los Angeles. He felt it was his responsibility to support his family’s finances by working and finding all sorts of odd jobs. Growing up, Bunche believed that the trials and tribulations of supporting his family and navigating in a time...

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Displacement and Development on Meridian Hill

This post was written by Natalie Shanklin, Creative Producer and Historian at Meridian International Center. Meridian gets its name from its location along 16th Street, otherwise known as the White House Meridian, one of four longitudinal lines in Washington that were at one point used as prime meridians in the United States. The hill atop which Meridian’s campus sits is a significant spot in the nation’s capital, positioned just north of the original border of the city as Pierre L’Enfant had outlined in his 1791 plan.   Though the area boasts humble origins, as it was mostly rolling farmland in the early days of American independence, it soon grew into a social center of Washington over the course...

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Ambassador Kenton W. Keith

This post was written by Urwah Ahmad, Global Communications Fellow at Meridian International Center. This post is a part of a series highlighting and acknowledging the work and contributions of Black diplomats during Black History Month. Ambassador Kenton Keith served as the Senior Vice President of Meridian International Center from 1997 until 2010 after a successful career in the foreign service. He supported Meridian’s works through the management of the professional exchange activities associated with the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).   Born on November 12, 1939, in Kansas City, Missouri, Kenton Wesley Keith began his interest in international relations while watching the televised Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954. He...

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