Wayne Dawkins is a writer, and a professor of professional practice at Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.

By Wayne Dawkins
Special to the AFRO

Vice President Kamala Harris Thursday told HBCU students that America’s foreign service needs their passion and their intellect. 

“I know you learned about the African diaspora, WEB DuBois and the Pan African Conference,” said the Howard University alumna. “You care. You have the responsibility to live up to that potential.” Climate change, racial injustice, economic instability and the global pandemic she said are among urgent issues, foreign and domestic.

Harris gave the opening address at the 12th Annual HBCU Day at the U.S. Department of State, for the first time a virtual conference because of the covid-19 pandemic.

Harris said her first campaign for elected office was as freshman representative at Howard. She went on to be elected district attorney, attorney general and U.S. Senator in California, and last year, made history as the first woman and person of color elected U.S. vice president. 

“You,” Harris told the virtual audience, “are the leaders,” and urged them to follow the legacies of diplomats Ralph Bunche, Andrew Young and Linda Thomas Greenfield, the latter confirmed Tuesday as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Antony “Tony” Blinken, secretary of state in the administration of President Biden, immediately followed Harris and said, “We are thrilled to have you here. Diversity is mission critical. 

“We hope you leave with a deeper understanding of how foreign policy works. We need you on our team.”

The conference continues through Friday.

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