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Ollie B. Ellison, Sr.

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Information about Ollie B. Ellison, Sr.

Profile image of Ollie B. Ellison, Sr.

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Foreign Service Officer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Gumbo
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Germany
Favorite Quote:
He Who Doesn't Have It In His Head Must Have It In His Feet.

Birthplace

Born:
2/23/1927
Birth Location:
Muskogee, Oklahoma

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Foreign Service Officer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Gumbo
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Germany
Favorite Quote:
He Who Doesn't Have It In His Head Must Have It In His Feet.

Birthplace

Born:
2/23/1927
Birth Location:
Muskogee
See how Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Foreign service officer Ollie Benjamin Jefferson Ellison, Sr. was born on February 23, 1927 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. His mother was a schoolteacher; his father, the first African American attorney in the State of Oklahoma. Ellison’s father also served as chairman of the Negro Democratic Party. Ellison graduated from Douglas High School in 1944 and then attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, where he received his B.A. degree in biology in 1949. During his junior year in 1946, Ellison was drafted into the U.S. Army for the Korean War and served in the Military Police Unit in Inchon, Korea. He later entered Indiana University’s graduate program, where he studied clinical psychology and Soviet studies. In 1951, Ellison was sent by the U.S. Army to intelligence school in Berlin, Germany. Upon returning from military duty in Germany, he enrolled in a graduate program in political science at the University of Chicago.

In 1957, Ellison was among the U.S. State Department’s first African American foreign service officers and was assigned to a post in the Middle East. He served in Cairo, Egypt from 1959 to 1964; Bremen, Germany from 1967 to 1970; Kinshasa, Zaire from 1974 to 1978; and Bangkok, Thailand from 1978 to 1981. Between 1981 and 1982, Ellison served in Bangui, Central African Republic; and, from 1983 to 1989, was an officer in Geneva, Switzerland. There, he served as U.S. representative to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. As a foreign service officer, Ellison met with several leaders and artists including P.W. Botha, Oliver Tambo, Malcolm X and Maya Angelou. He retired from the U.S. State Department in 1989 and later worked for the National Archives declassification department.

In 1973, Ellison authored the “Employment Practices of U.S. Firms in South Africa”, which appeared in the Johannesburg Star and became known later as The Sullivan Principles. In February of 2013, his career was featured in the U.S. State Department’s State Magazine.

Ellison passed away on May 26, 2015 at the age of eighty-eight. He was married to Lydia A. Ellison and had four children: Ollie B. Ellison, Sylvia J. Ellison, Bonita J. Ellison, and Rebecca W. Ellison.

Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 29, 2004 and January 14, 2005.

See how Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ollie B. Ellison, Sr.'s interview, session 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his maternal family history, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his maternal family history, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his paternal family history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. remembers the impact of his father's death
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about Native American landholding in Oklahoma during his father's lifetime
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. lists his siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his childhood community in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about attending Inman E. Page School and Dunbar School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about career expectations in his community
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. remembers being a bookish child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about growing up Episcopalian
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes working while attending Douglass High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about his college ambitions
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his time at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about influences in his early life
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his U.S. military training at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his U.S. army service in Korea
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes moving between The University Graduate School at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana and the U.S. army
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. remembers being stationed in Berlin, Germany as an intelligence officer
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about his reputation as an intelligence officer
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about joining the United States Foreign Service in the early 1950s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about passing the officer test for the United States Foreign Service
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes the politics of the United States Foreign Service
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about his marriage and gender discrimination in his 1957 United States Foreign Service class
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his first United States Foreign Service assignment in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about being stationed in Cairo, Egypt in the late 1950s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about the political climate of Cairo, Egypt in the late 1950s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes the status he had while dispensing visas to the United States in Egypt
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. remembers the impact of African nationalism in Egypt in the 1950s and 1960s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Slating of Ollie B. Ellison, Sr.'s tape, session 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. remembers trying to get a United States visa for Oliver Tambo
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. remembers observing the Civil Rights Movement from afar
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes advising the United States Department of State about the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 1960s, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes advising the United States Department of State about the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 1960s, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his post in Bremen, Germany
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about an encounter with a local leader of the Communist Party of Germany
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about being assigned to attend a Neo-Nazi convention in Germany
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about his similarities and differences with HistoryMaker Angela Davis
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his research on employment practices in southern African countries
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. recalls his observations of apartheid while in South Africa
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes the repercussions of his economics paper for the United States Department of State and the Sullivan Principles
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about the economic impact of the 'Rumble in the Jungle' in Kinshasa, Republic of Zaire
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about the connection between African Americans and Africans, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about the connection between African Americans and Africans, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about meeting Chinese President Deng Xiaoping while working in Thailand
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his accomplishments as the United States Embassy finance and development officer in Thailand
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his assignment in the Central African Republic
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. remembers conflicts with the United States ambassador to the Central African Republic
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes building relationships with local Central African Republic officials
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his assignment of providing diplomatic protection in the Central African Republic
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his assignment of providing diplomatic protection in the Central African Republic
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. recalls an intense encounter with soldiers from the Central African Republic
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. talks about being recalled from the Central African Republic
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes his work on the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva, Switzerland
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Ollie B. Ellison, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered