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The Honorable James Joseph

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Information about The Honorable James Joseph

Profile image of The Honorable James Joseph

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Activist
Foreign Ambassador

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Gumbo
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons Except Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
I'm Not An Optimist Because I Do Not Believe Everything Ends Well. I Am Not A Pessimist Because I Do Not Believe Everything Ends Badly.

Birthplace

Born:
3/12/1935
Birth Location:
Plaisance, Louisiana

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Activist
Foreign Ambassador

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Gumbo
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons Except Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
I'm Not An Optimist Because I Do Not Believe Everything Ends Well. I Am Not A Pessimist Because I Do Not Believe Everything Ends Badly.

Birthplace

Born:
3/12/1935
Birth Location:
Plaisance
See how The Honorable James Joseph is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Former United States Ambassador to South Africa James Alfred Joseph was born on March 12, 1935 in Plaisance, Louisiana to Julia and Adam Joseph, farmers. Joseph attended the segregated St. Landry Parish Training School where he excelled in English and original oratory. He won the state oratory competition and placed second in the national competition. Joseph was an avid athlete who achieved success in track and basketball, and during high school, Joseph served as student government association president. In 1952, upon graduation from high school, Joseph entered Southern University where he served as class president, president of the Baptist Club and as the debate team champion. He graduated with his B.A. degree in political science and social studies. In 1959, Joseph received his master’s degree in Divinity from Yale University. At Yale, Joseph became active in civil rights protests and marches while serving in the ROTC in a non-combatant unit.

In 1963, Joseph began his academic career at Stillman College while working as a civil rights organizer. As an ordained minister, Joseph also taught at Yale Divinity School and the Claremont Colleges, where he served as University Chaplain. In 1971, Joseph left academia and was hired as Vice President of Cummins Engine Company. He also served as president of the Cummins Engine Foundation. After five years in corporate philanthropy, Joseph moved to government in 1977 when he was appointed Under Secretary for the Department of the Interior under President Jimmy Carter. In 1982, Joseph returned to philanthropy as the president and chief executive officer of the Council on Foundations, an international organization comprised of more than 2,000 foundations, where he served until 1995. During this time, President Ronald Reagan appointed Joseph to the Advisory Committee to the Agency for International Development, and in 1985, he was named a Distinguished Visitor at Nuffield College at Oxford University.

In 1996, Joseph joined the ambassadorial ranks when was named United States Ambassador to South Africa under President Bill Clinton where he would serve until 2000. As such, he was the first ambassador to present credentials to President Nelson Mandela. Joseph was awarded the Order of Good Hope by South African President Thabo Mbeki. Joseph continues to speak publicly about a variety of civic, religious and academic issues and is the author of The Charitable Impulse and Remaking America. After Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans and Joseph’s home-state of Louisiana, Governor Kathleen Blanco named Joseph the Chairman of the newly formed Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation. Joseph is also the founder of the United States-Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values at Duke University and the University of Cape Town.

Joseph was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 24, 2007.

See how The Honorable James Joseph is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable James Joseph's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable James Joseph lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable James Joseph describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable James Joseph describes his father's education and career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable James Joseph talks about his grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable James Joseph talks about his aunts and uncles
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable James Joseph describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable James Joseph remembers his early interest in reading
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable James Joseph remembers his activities in Plaisance, Louisiana
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable James Joseph describes segregation in southern Louisiana, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable James Joseph describes segregation in southern Louisiana, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable James Joseph remembers his influences in high school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable James Joseph describes the St. Landry Parish Training School in Opelousas, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable James Joseph talks about the Creole culture
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls the Starlight Baptist Church in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable James Joseph describes the Ku Klux Klan in St. Landry Paris, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable James Joseph remembers working in Houston, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable James Joseph describes segregation in Opelousas, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls his early aspirations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls his extracurricular activities in college
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls joining the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls his influences at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls the Reserve Officers' Training Corps
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable James Joseph describes his U.S. Army service
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable James Joseph remembers briefly teaching the third grade
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls his civil rights activities at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls his Danforth Foundation fellowship
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable James Joseph describes his studies at the Yale Divinity School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable James Joseph describes his civil rights work in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable James Joseph describes a demonstration in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable James Joseph describes a demonstration in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable James Joseph describes his civil rights achievements in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable James Joseph describes his family
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls protesting the Vietnam War in Claremont, California
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable James Joseph describes his oratorical style
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls the civil rights leaders in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable James Joseph remembers organizing protests at Claremont College
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable James Joseph talks about returning to the South
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls his civil rights work in Edwards, Mississippi
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable James Joseph describes his career at Claremont College
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls serving as a foundation executive
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable James Joseph describes his accomplishments as a foundation executive
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable James Joseph describes the Martin Luther King Fellows program
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable James Joseph remembers visiting South Africa, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable James Joseph remembers visiting South Africa, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable James Joseph talks about his involvement with the TransAfrica Forum
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable James Joseph recalls his appointment to the U.S. Department of Interior