Walter Carrington, former Peace Corps CD & US Ambassador to Nigeria, is dead
Walter Carrington, former United States Ambassador to Nigeria and Senegal, has died at the age of 90 according to a statement by his wife, Arese Carrington,
“It is with a heavy and broken heart but with gratitude to God for his life of selfless humanity that I announce the passing of my beloved husband Walter Carrington, former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and Senegal. Further announcements will be made shortly,” she said.
According to her, Walter was a loving husband, father, grandfather, cousin, uncle, friend and in-law.
“Ralph Waldo Emerson said . . .. It is not the length of life but the depth of life. Walter was fortunate, his life had both length and depth,” she said.
Carrington was born in 1930. He served as the US Ambassador to Senegal from 1980 to 1981. He was appointed by US President Bill Clinton in 1993 as the US Ambassador to Nigeria, where he remained until 1997.
His ties to Nigeria were deep; he had married into a Nigerian family and had lived in three Nigerian cities since the late 1960s.
Carrington graduated from the Harvard Law School (AB 1952; JD 1955). Upon graduation from Harvard, he enlisted in the US Army, where one of his assignments was as an enlisted man with the Judge Advocate General Corps (Germany, 1955–57).
Upon separation from the military, he entered a private law practice in Boston, Massachusetts; during that time, he also served as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the youngest person to serve until that date.
He held various positions in the Peace Corps from 1961 to 1971, serving as Country Director in Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Tunisia and then as Regional Director for Africa (1969–71).
From 1971 to 1980, he was Executive Vice President of the African-American Institute.
Carrington served as the US Ambassador to the Republic of Senegal from 1980 to 1981. In 1981, he was named Director of the Department of International Affairs of Howard University. He published several articles on Africa. He served as US Ambassador to Nigeria from 1993 to 1997. On 1 September 2004, Carrington was named the Warburg Professor of International Relations at Simmons College in Boston.
Carrington was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. In 1997, he received an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Humane Letters) from Livingstone College, North Carolina.
In 1991, Carrington published Africa in the Minds and Deeds of Black American Leaders (with Edwin Dorn). In 2010, he published A Duty to Speak: Refusing to Remain Silent in a Time of Tyranny, a compilation of his speeches supporting democracy and human rights in Nigeria during the Abacha military dictatorship.
Read also:“10 things you probably didn’t know about Walter Carrington” at The Nation.
and Ex-US ambassador Carrington dies at 90 at The Nation
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Ambassador Carrington also told me in a phone call that he was the Peace Corps person in charge at headquarters when the Committee of Returned Volunteers on May 8th 1970 took over the Peace Corps offices. He said at one point he was called down out of the offices into a limousine sent from the White House to speak with a representative of the Nixon administration. The administration was planning to send police. Ambassador Carrington argued that the administration should not attempt to forcefully extract the demonstrators. He believed they would end up leaving on their own (which they did), and that it would be better for everyone involved that way.
I don’t know whether Ambassador Carrington wrote about this history anywhere, and I am terribly saddened that we never had the chance to interview him on camera for A Towering Task. Wishing his family much solace.
So sad to learn about Walter Carrington, whom I first got to know and admire during my second year, 1965-66, as a Peace Corps volunteer architect in Tunisia. During subsequent years we crossed paths occasionally here in Washington, DC.
Upon completion of my two-years tour of duty as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia, I returned to America stopping first in D.C. Many RPCVs from around the world did the same. India McCanse, APCD PC/Ethiopia had suggested that I visit the Africa Region at PC/HQ. She specifically instructed me to search of Hank Raulerson and Walter Carrington. Both played significant roles on the PC/Africa Region administrative team, headed by C.Payne Lucas. Others whom I found there were Marie Gadsden, Leroy Walker, Kevin Louther, John Hope. There were others whose names do not come to the fore at this moment. Suffice it to say, the Africa Region offices on the ninth floor was the place to be. The superb leaders who managed the Peace Corps affairs in Africa were super-skilled, super-energetic, super-creative, super men and women. As Desk Officer for Somalia, Malawi, and Uganda I was privileged to work with and be mentored by these giants. How grateful I am to be able to say that so much of my life successes resulted from having Walter Carrington and his Peace Corps cohorts as examplars.
Walter, I can virtually copy much of your posting. I think you might have preceded me in the Africa Region. For the first half of my original five years in PC/W (3/68-7/70), I worked for Bill Hintz in the Office of Volunteer Support … he was truly a dynamo … one of so many leaders of that era who were totally committed to the Peace Corps. Having been a PCV for 3.5 years in Liberia, I jumped at the chance to apply for a vacancy as the Liberia Desk Officer in the Africa Region — twice. I am forever grateful to Walter Carrington for giving my that opportunity (7/70-1/73). Walter and his successor Hank Raullerson were two bosses in my early career who had huge shoes to fill and taught me so much about Africa as well as how to work in a Washington bureaucracy. The last sentence of your posting are my words exactly.
Walter & Dale, thanks for the memory jog, Walter was my colleague briefly when he returned to Washington in the Office of Planning & Program Review. He was an astute observer of behavior and a great person to be around. Alana I remember the occupation and Walter talking about the meeting to decide what to do about Paul Cowen ( Ecuador) and the others on the 4th floor (?). Walter recounted the DC Police Chief saying to the assembled group “ What do you want me to do? I can either take them out or leave them there”.
I recall after the occupation ended, we opened a bottle of something or other to toast. Walter poured some of the alcohol into a corner of the room. Walter said this is an African ritual to cleanse the room. Having served in Colombia this was entirely new to me. RIP WALTER WHAT A GREAT LIFE. CONDOLENCES TO ARESE AND THE FAMILY