Blacks in the Bush Administration; New President Taps Old Allies and Bright Young Newcomers

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Blacks In The Bush Administration

Along-forgotten African trip influenced President George Bush to improve the United States' image in Third World Nations and to utilize Blacks in policymaking roles to achieve his vision of "a kinder, gentler nation." A 1982 photograph of four Black guests on the two-week, seven-country trip, together with Bush and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, has suddenly become a prized keepsake of an episode regarded as the watershed in Bush's presidential quest.

Today, a few months after his inaguration, President Bush's actions on racial matters all go black to his strategic African trip. Three of the Black guests on Air Force Two have accepted challenging positions in an administration that carries a hope of radiating "a thousand points of light." A number of Blacks have been named envoys, more prominent Black Republicans are being considered for vacancies in the federal government, and a campaign to net qualified young minority members has resulted in a cadre nicknamed "power babies" in the White House.

A key beneficiary of the African goodwill junket has been former Morehouse Medical School President Louis Sullivan. During the trip, Dr. Sullivan convinced Mrs. Barbara Bush to serve on his board of trustees, a relationship that proved valuable in his own selection as the only Black in the Bush cabinet--as Secretary of Health and Human Services, the largest domestic federal department, with a budget of over $150 billion. Sullivan's emphasis will be on a drive to improve health care for millions of America's poor.

The Bush administration has also named Thad Garrett, a close presidential ally and African trip coordinator, as the United Nation's deputy ambassador. Named ambassador to Zimbabwe, site of the picture-taking session, was Steven Rhodes, a Bush vice presidential aide.

Other diplomatic appointments include senior Black diplomat Terence Todman, ambassador to Argentina; Chicago lawyer Jewel Lafontant, ambassador-at-large for refugees, a first; Washington minister Jerry Moore, ambassador to Lesotho; Leonard Spearman Sr., ambassador to Rwanda, and Cynthia Williams, ambassador to Burudni. The first Black envoy to South Africa, Edward Perkins, became the first Black director general of the U.S. Foreign Service. During the entire Reagan eight years, only seven Blacks were named ambassadors, a cutback from the all-time high 17 during the Carter term. …