2007 Library News

American Ambassador to South Africa To Speak at Downtown Library

“Apartheid South Africa was on fire around me.” So begins the autobiography of Edward J. Perkins, “Mr. Ambassador: Warrior For Peace.” Perkins was America 's first African-American ambassador to South Africa . He was given his assignment—to bring down apartheid peacefully—by President Reagan in 1986.

Ambassador Perkins will speak in the 46th Star Auditorium of the Downtown Library on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007 . Dr. Perkins' talk begins at 2:00pm and a reception will follow at 3:00 .

Perkins was raised on a Louisiana cotton farm by grandparents who could neither read nor write. “I decided early on,” he said, “never to let the issue of race stand in my way.”

His life's journey took him from the segregated south to the white elite Foreign Service where he became the first black officer to reach the top position of director general.

“I did get an education—a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California—but before that I acquired self-discipline, first by serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and then by beginning a lifelong study of Asian philosophy. Those two experiences taught me the importance of comprehending the battlefield and the opponent. That can apply to almost anything that tests us.”

After retiring from the Foreign Service, Dr. Perkins went on to become the William J. Crowe Professor of Geopolitics and Executive Director of the International Programs Center at the University of Oklahoma .

“We are not a perfect nation,” Perkins observed, “but our Constitution allows us the right of civil disobedience as we evolve into a better nation.”

For more information on Ambassador Perkins' speech, call 606-3878, or 606-3879.

The Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County includes 12 libraries and five extension libraries. Libraries include Belle Isle, Capitol Hill, Ralph Ellison, Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library and Southern Oaks in Oklahoma City, as well as Bethany, Choctaw, Del City, Edmond, Midwest City, Village and Warr Acres. Extensions are located in the communities of Harrah, Jones, Luther and Nicoma Park and include Wright Library in Oklahoma City . You can also reach us at www.metrolibrary.org.