Exporting the American Dilemma: Black American Technicians and Washington’s Aid to Africa
Many HBCU-trained technicians who became aid careerists cut their teeth working for the Agricultural Extension Service, referred to in a 1958 Tuskegee report as “the most rigidly segregated agency identified with the federal government.” Already used to working in “underdeveloped” areas in United States, federal employment opportunities in Africa offered black technicians unusual career mobility. Segregation, however, remained through the 1960s, though in permutated form: with black Americans ranking among top in-country aid personnel in Africa from the 1940s, African aid enclaves were largely ghettoized, and those in top ranks in Washington were white. Though Washington’s aid agency— called the Agency for International Development (AID) from 1961— took a more rigorous approach than its predecessor agencies in providing opportunities for black Americans to rise in the ranks of government employ, AID initiatives were decidedly less engaged with and successful in furthering integration.
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