Biden’s administration unveils the African Diaspora Council

Biden's administration unveils the African Diaspora Council
Nigerian-Americans among people appointed to the African Diaspora Council by the Biden Administration

By Pearl Matibe

The Joe Biden administration has followed up on its ‘’Biden-Harris Agenda for Diaspora’’ election promise by unveiling the African Diaspora Council, which will be part of the President’s Advisory Council.

This two-year initiative which was unveiled by U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken aims to fortify U.S.-Africa relations by focusing on trade, education, and community bonds.

Recalling the Timeline: From Campaign Promises to Concrete Actions

Back in 2020, during his run for the presidency, Joe Biden, along with Kamala Harris, released their visionary “The Biden-Harris Agenda for the Diaspora.” Now, President Biden seeks a second term to fulfill his mission, addressing the concerns of Africans and people of African descent residing in the United States, ranging from immigration and foreign affairs policies towards Africa to family and opportunities.

This is the birth of a pivotal Council.

Look back to December 13, at the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, President Biden inked an Executive Order. This historic step established the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement, an initiative aimed at actively involving the African Diaspora — individuals of native African origin residing outside the African continent. This collective has been acknowledged as the sixth region of the African Union.

According to Secretary Blinken, “The Advisory Council will be supported by the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs and Executive Director Deniece Laurent-Mantey. Members will meet for the first time in the coming months, and approximately three times per year. Advisory Council meetings will be open to the public and announced in the Federal Register at least 15 days in advance.”

During the closing day of the 78th UN General Assembly, President Biden unveiled the inaugural members of the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States

These members were handpicked to serve in alignment with President Biden’s December 13, 2022, executive order. This directive, signed by the President, instructed the Secretary of State to establish PAC-ADE, tasked with advising the President on ways to strengthen connections among African communities on the continent, the U.S. Government, the African Diaspora in the United States, and the global African Diaspora.

Here is a glimpse of the distinguished individuals—which includes Nigerian Americans, actors, basketball champions, and former ambassadors, and Diaspora business leaders—selected for this pioneering Advisory Council:

Silvester Beaman, Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, known for delivering the benediction at President Biden’s Inauguration in 2021.

Mimi Alemayehou, Founder of Semai Ventures LLC, dedicated to sustainable development in emerging economies, with a background that includes serving as Senior Vice President for Public-Private Partnerships at Mastercard.

Rosalind Brewer, former CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, whose extensive career spans Starbucks, Sam’s Club, and various board memberships, including Spelman College and VillageMD.

Viola Davis, the multi-Tony Award-winning artist, activist, and philanthropist, co-founder of JuVee Productions and a dedicated advocate for ending childhood hunger in the United States.

Helene D. Gayle, President of Spelman College and an expert in economic development, humanitarian issues, and health, known for her leadership at organizations like CARE and the Gates Foundation.

Patrick Gaspard, President, and CEO of the Center for American Progress, with a career blending government, philanthropy, labor, and global diplomacy.

C.D. Glin, President of the PepsiCo Foundation and Global Head of Social Impact for PepsiCo, who previously served as CEO of the U.S. African Development Foundation.

Osagie Imasogie, Chairman of Quoin Capital and co-founder of PIPV Capital, recognized for his extensive experience in pharmaceuticals, law, and investments.

Almaz Negash, Founder of the African Diaspora Network (ADN), a driving force behind collaboration between Africans in the Diaspora and social entrepreneurs, with initiatives like the African Diaspora Investment Symposium.

Chinenye Ogwumike, 2-Time WNBA All-Star, ESPN host, and NBA analyst, who has been instrumental in the WNBA Players Association and youth empowerment and education initiatives in Africa.

Ham Serunjogi, Co-founder & CEO of Chipper Cash, a prominent African fintech company valued at over $2 billion, with expertise in venture capital and finance.

Kevin Young, Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, an accomplished poet and author with a profound understanding of African American culture and history.

The Summit’s Significance is linked to the December 2022 U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit proved to be a pivotal moment, yielding several significant outcomes. Foremost among these was the establishment of the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement within the United States. This groundbreaking move was complemented by the inaugural U.S.-Africa Space Forum, opening a new chapter in collaborative space exploration.

Furthermore, President Biden affirmed his support for the African Union’s endeavor to secure a permanent seat at the G20. This endorsement holds immense implications, as it seeks to amplify Africa’s global influence.

The commitment of a substantial $55 billion in funding to advance shared objectives in alignment with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 underscores a deep dedication to advancing both African and U.S. interests on the international stage.

Biden’s 2020 election campaign promises are materializing. Prior to these tangible actions, Vice President Kamala Harris embarked on a significant journey to Africa, visiting Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia. Her visit included a solemn moment at Cape Coast Castle, where she commemorated the sacrifices made.

Reflecting on the 2020 Biden-Harris campaign document aimed at the African Diaspora, it emphasized the diversity and shared values of this community. The document underscored the commitment of the Biden-Harris administration to ensuring equal opportunities for all, regardless of one’s background.

The policy statement resonated with the promise to rebuild the nation, leaving no barriers to success or limits to achievements.

In a quote from the document, it stated, “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will rebuild our country in a way that brings everyone along.”

Pearl Matibe is a Washington, DC-based White House Correspondent, and media commentator with expertise on U.S. foreign policy, and international security. You may follow her on Twitter: @PearlMatibe