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February 5

 

February 5, 1958

Clifton Wharton Sr. Named Minister to Romania

When Clifton Wharton Sr. was named minister to Romania on this date in 1958 he became the first African American to head a U.S. mission in Europe.

Until Wharton's selection by President Eisenhower, the only top postings open to the State Department's few black foreign service officers were in countries such as Haiti and Liberia. (Wharton's son, Clifton Wharton Jr., also was a pioneer. When he was named CEO and chairman of TIAA-CREF in 1987, he became the first black American to head a Fortune 500 company, just one of his many achievements.)

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