In the new issue of Foreign Affairs Magazine, the notice that the Council on Foreign Relations is “seeking talented individuals for the Franklin Williams Internship” AGAIN overlooks the fact that Franklin Williams began his international career at the Peace Corps.
While it does say that Ambassador Williams had a long career of public service, including serving at the American Ambassador to Ghana, as well as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Lincoln University. He was also, they say, a Director of the Council on Foreign Relations. What it doesn’t say is that Franklin Williams began his ‘international’ career at the Peace Corps in 1961, and was at HQ as Chief of the Division of Private Organizations, and then head of the African Region. In 1965 LBJ appointed Williams the first black representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, from this position he would go onto serve for three years as Ambassador to Ghana.
It is sad that even the Foreign Affairs Magazine does not credit the Peace Corps with launching Williams foreign affairs career. The agency is never mentioned. As Williams said at the time, taking the job in D.C. with the Peace Corps, and moving off the ‘front lines’ of civil rights in the U.S. was become “the Peace Corps is doing something whereby formerly oppressed people can attain their place in the sun.”
Williams came to the Peace Corps at the urging of Harris Wofford who knew Williams from his own civil rights work. One story I heard, which I believe is true, is that Harris and his wife, Clare, went–as a white couple–to ‘check out’ houses for sale in Chevy Chase, Maryland, acting as surrogates home buyers for Shirley and Franklin Williams as owners in the fancy suburb would not sell their homes to blacks in the segregated Washington, D.C. area.
I wrote the editors of Foreign Affairs about this omission. They never replied.However, we might now ALL email the Council on Foreign Relations Human Resources Office about their mistake. If enough of us write, we might wake them up.The email for them is: firstname.lastname@example.org. And send a cc to: email@example.com. Just tell them that they have they have gotten it wrong in their publication. That will get their attention. Thanks.