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Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield to Commemorate the International Day for People of African Descent

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
August 31, 2022


MODERATOR: Good afternoon and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center’s briefing on the critical role of racial justice and equity in U.S. foreign policy. We are hosting this briefing today in recognition of International Day for People of African Descent. My name is Doris Robinson, and I am the briefing moderator.

First, we will hear from Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Over to you.

AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you so much, Doris, and thank you so much to everyone for joining us in marking the International Day for People of African Descent. And thank you in particular to Representative Meeks, Special Representative Cormier Smith, and Professor Hansford for leading and lending their time and talents today.

This day is personal for me. Having grown up in the segregated South, I was moved to tears the first – the very first time I set foot in Africa: the warm welcome that I received, knowing I was in the land of my ancestors was beautiful and inspiring, and I have never forgotten that day. It made me determined to support all peoples of African descent throughout my career.

So I am beyond proud that the United States is joining so many others around the world in both honoring and celebrating the second International Day for People of African Descent. For me, honoring this day means not shrinking away from our painful past or our current responsibilities to remove the rot of systemic racism from our societies.

Earlier this month, the United States presented its report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva. The report highlighted our many actions across our entire government to address racial and ethnic discrimination in the United States. We engaged closely with civil society and with the committee on that report, and we’re absolutely – absolutely committed to making that progress. The appointment of Desirée Cormier is just one more example of that commitment.

But this is not only a solemn day; it is also a day of celebration. We should celebrate all people of African descent, and our many collective contributions to the world. We should celebrate the hard-won progress we’ve made over the past decades, even though we still have so much further to go. And we should celebrate the creation of the Permanent Forum for People of African Descent. This new and necessary space represents a real, tangible victory at the UN.

I know Professor Hansford’s decades of experience and commitment to racial justice will be pivotal towards shaping and sustaining this critical new body. And I know this forum will benefit all people of African descent for years to come. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Ambassador.

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