Profiling George Haley, The Eldest Black U.S. Ambassador in Diplomatic History


Attorney George Williford Boyce Haley is part of the 149 black diplomats out of 2,200 individuals who have worked on behalf of the U.S. federal government across the world since the title was first used in America’s diplomatic history in 1893. According to black history, George was the eldest of this group; he was 72 at the time of his appointment to the Gambia.

George was born on August 28, 1925, in Henning, Tennessee, to university professor parents who were always moving from one school to the next. In 1949, he graduated from Morehouse College alongside Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, Martin Luther King Jr., and Lerone Bennett. He entered Arkansas Law School after accepting a challenge from his father. He was the third African American student to be admitted to the University of Arkansas Law School.

Though his adolescence was difficult, none were as difficult as his time in Arkansas. He had to deal with bigotry and racial profiling, with the worst incident being pee thrown in his face. He persisted, however, and finished his first year of law school with a stellar academic score.

He had begun producing articles for the law review by his second year. He earned his legal degree in 1952 and briefly worked for Stevens Jackson’s Kansas law company. From 1954 through 1964, George was the Deputy City Attorney. His political career began in 1964, when he was elected as a Kansas State Senator, according to historians.

Despite his huge break in the United States Congress, President Nixon nominated him as Chief Counsel of the Urban Mass Transportation Administration. President George H.W. Bush gave him another chance in 1990 as Chairman of the Postal Rate Commission, where he labored for eight years. He was also appointed by President Bill Clinton as the United States’ Ambassador to Gambia, a position he held until 2001.

Throughout his tenure, George strove to develop ties between the United States and The Gambia. He was well-known for his unwavering support for democracy, human rights, and good government. During his tenure as ambassador, he was instrumental in negotiating a dispute over the Senegal River between The Gambia and neighboring Senegal. He also sought to encourage The Gambia’s economic development, particularly in tourism and agriculture.

George continued to work in international development after quitting his role as ambassador. He advised various institutions, including the World Bank and the African Development Bank. Over his career, George received various accolades and honors in acknowledgment of his services. On May 13, 2015, he died at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland. He was 89 years old at the time. He will be remembered as a dedicated public servant who worked diligently to improve people’s lives.

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