United States Mission to the United Nations
Office of Press and Public Diplomacy
For Immediate Release
February 1, 2022
Statement by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Black History Month
Today begins a monthlong celebration of the contributions and achievements of Black Americans as well as an examination of parts of our nation’s history too often overlooked. In delving into our history through the lens of historically marginalized communities, a richer and more nuanced sense of who we are as a people comes into focus. Americans from all backgrounds stand to benefit from this deepened understanding. We may discover new role models and gain new insights into where we fit into America’s story today by having a clearer picture of the trajectory of our ancestors.
This has certainly been true for me. I often think about my mentor, Ambassador Edward Perkins, a fellow Louisiana native and diplomat who was already an icon in the State Department when I joined in 1982. He would go on to hold some of the country’s most important diplomatic jobs. He was the first-ever Black American Ambassador to South Africa, during the height of apartheid. And he held other high-level posts, including Ambassador to Liberia, Director General of the Foreign Service, and the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. It’s no coincidence that I later went on to hold three of those positions. Seeing him in those roles allowed me to see myself in them, too.
In the past year, the United States was instrumental in establishing the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent in the United Nations General Assembly. This forum acknowledges that, at long last, we are compelled to give voice to the dynamic challenges and aspirations of People of African Descent, not just in the United States, but around the world. This forum creates a new and inclusive space for all People of African Descent to come together and build a better future – a future grounded in our heritage and built upon the strong foundation laid by those in the African Diaspora who played an integral role in building this nation and so many others.
We must continue the work of uplifting the rich legacy of Black people globally and ending the scourge of racism and discrimination, which continues to infringe on the lives of Black people and our nation every day. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to this work, and I look forward to continuing that work at the United Nations.