Madeleine Albright and the New American Diplomacy

By Thomas W. Lippman | Go to book overview
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Chapter 1
I LOOK PRETTY GOOD
IN A STETSON

THE GOSPEL-ROCK voices of the Knights for Christ Singers swelled through the hall. The audience clapped and swayed. And then the Reverend Lewis M. Anthony, smartly turned out in a cherry-red suit with matching derby hat, stepped forward to present the guest of honor, "the baddest thing this side of heaven"-- Madeleine K. Albright, the secretary of state, emissary to the world of the United States of America.

The setting was not some inner-city church but the Dean Acheson auditorium in the stuffy State Department headquarters building in Washington. Albright, just back from a grueling roundthe-world trip, was celebrating Black History Month with rank-andfile employees.

Welcomed by a standing ovation from the mostly black crowd, Albright joined them and the beaming Anthony in belting out "Lift Every Voice in Song," the harmonies spilling out into the normally hushed corridors. At its conclusion, Albright took the microphone to make a promise: She would not sing solo. "I've been called many names since I was named secretary of state," she said. "To my regret, Aretha was not one of them."

This allusion to the popular African-American singer Aretha Franklin, delivered as an inside joke between cultural soulmates, drew laughter and more applause from the delighted workers. Career employees of the State Department, they had never heard

-1-

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