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Joseph Segars

Joseph Monroe Segars was born on November 6, 1938, in Hartsville, South Carolina. He was raised by his mother's sister and her husband, Walter and Francis Hines, after his parents migrated to Philadelphia in search of better jobs. His uncle was a painter and his aunt worked as a domestic. In 1956, he earned his high school diploma from Butler High School. Upon graduation he joined his family in Philadelphia and worked in a lamp factory before attending college.

Between 1957 and 1961, Segars attended Cheyney University of Pennsylvania where earned his bachelor's of science degree in education. Following his graduation, he taught sixth grade in the Gary, Indiana, public school system until 1967. That year, Segars moved back to Philadelphia where he taught sixth grade in the public schools there. At the urging of a family friend, he joined the Foreign Service in 1970 and was the first African American assigned to Vienna, where he served until 1973.

In 1974, Segars was assigned to the State Department's West African Affairs Department as a desk officer primarily responsible for Liberia and Sierra Leone. In 1976, Segars became one of the first African Americans to be assigned to strife-torn South Africa, and his arrival in Johannesburg coincided with the outbreak of unrest in Soweto. Until his departure from South Africa in 1978, Segars served as Consul General. From South Africa, Segars traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, where he served as Consul General until 1980. The following year, he served as a desk officer in the Office of Southern African Affairs overseeing three African countries. In 1983, Segars was appointed Consul General in Lagos, Nigeria, where he remained until 1986. From 1986 until 1989, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Tanzania, where he lobbied successfully to win the country's understanding and support for U.S. efforts to resolve major southern African conflicts. Leaving Tanzania in 1989, Segars worked as a Career Counselor in the Office of Human Resources. From 1992 until 1993, he participated in the State Department's 34th annual Seminar for Senior-level officials. In 1993, Segars received his first ambassadorship to the Republic of Cape Verde, where he remained until his retirement in 1996.

Since his retirement he has served as a consultant on Africa issues. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the recipient of several prestigious awards for his foreign service. In 1997, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Southeastern University.

Joseph Monroe Segars passed away on July 20, 2014 at the age of 75.

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Interview Date

8/11/2004 |and| 9/23/2004



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Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

Indiana University

Butler High School

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South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination


Favorite Quote

If I were doing better, there would be two of me.

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Short Description

Consul general and foreign ambassador Joseph Segars (1938 - 2014 ) served as the United States State Department's consul general in South Africa, Jamaica, and Nigeria, and later served as ambassador to the Republic of Cape Verde.


Gary, Indiana Public Schools

United States State Department

Favorite Color



Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joseph Segars interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joseph Segars' favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joseph Segars describes his mother and her personality

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joseph Segars discusses his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joseph Segars remembers the aunt and uncle who raised him

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joseph Segars describes his maternal grandmother and her stories of the past

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joseph Segars remembers primer school and his early chores in the house and field

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joseph Segars recalls childhood holidays

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joseph Segars lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Joseph Segars describes his childhood community in South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Joseph Segars remembers his desire to leave South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Joseph Segars recounts his elementary school years

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Joseph Segars explains his desire to leave South Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Photo - Joseph Segars with his family, South Carolina, ca. 1940

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Photo - Joseph Segars, ca. 1952

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Photo - Joseph Segars with his wife, ca. 1989

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Photo - Joseph Segars with his wife, Elizabeth, at their wedding, June 13, 1964

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Photo - Joseph Segars with his son, Ryan Segars, and wife Elizabeth, ca. 2001

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Photo - Joseph Segars with his wife Elizabeth, Ambassador Carol Hayes and his son, Ryan, 1984

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Photo - Joseph Segars on the cover of 'State,' ca. December 1987

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Photo - Joseph Segars receives an honorary doctorate, Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Photo - Joseph Segars with Bernard Coleman, Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Photo - Joseph Segars with Maureen Reagan, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, ca. 1987

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Photo - Joseph Segars's Ambassadorial swearing in ceremony Washington, D.C., November 22, 1992

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Photo - Joseph Segars with his wife Elizabeth and son Ryan, Washington, D.C., November 1992

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Photo - Joseph Segars' family, Washington, D.C., November, 1992

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Photo - Joseph Segars, Johannesburg, South Africa, June 12, 1976

Tape: 5 Story: 15 - Photo - Joseph Segars, the Republic of Cape Verde, 1995

Tape: 5 Story: 16 - Photo - Joseph Segars with his wife, Elizabeth, and son Ryan Segars, 1992

Tape: 5 Story: 17 - Photo - Joseph Segars with Chief T.O.S. Benson, his mother-in-law Ethel Graham, and others, Lagos, Nigera, ca. 1985

Tape: 5 Story: 18 - Photo - Joseph Segars with Chief T.O.S. Benson, Lagos, Nigeria, ca. 1985

Tape: 5 Story: 19 - Photo - Joseph Segars with Prime Minister Carlos Viega, Fogo Island, the Republic of Cape Verde, ca. 1995

Tape: 5 Story: 20 - Photo - Joseph Segars with Prime Minister Carlos Viega, the Republic of Cape Verde


Tape: 5 Story: 21 - Photo - Joseph Segars with Barney Franks and others, Republic of Cape Verde

Tape: 5 Story: 22 - Photo - Joseph Segars with Gary Dahm and Russell Hanks, Republic of Cape Verde

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joseph Segars recalls his childhood church activities

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joseph Segars describes his middle school years

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joseph Segars remembers his high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joseph Segars recounts his interim year between high school and college

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joseph Segars details his college experiences at Cheyney State University

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joseph Segars reflects on his teaching career in Gary, Indiana and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joseph Segars explains his decision to join the Foreign Service

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Joseph Segars recalls his first Foreign Service assignment in Vienna, Austria

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Joseph Segars recounts his transition to the Office of West African Affairs and South Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joseph Segars talks about his years in South Africa and compares apartheid with U.S. segregation

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joseph Segars recalls the connection between class and skin color in Jamaica while he was Consul General there

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joseph Segar describes disagreements over U.S. policy during the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joseph Segars describes his work as Consul General in Nigeria

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joseph Segars recounts his progression towards becoming an ambassador

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joseph Segars recalls becoming an ambassador to Cape Verde

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joseph Segars recounts his experiences as U.S. Ambassador to Cape Verde

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joseph Segars details his work on the 50th NATO Summit

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joseph Segars describes his return to Nigeria

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joseph Segars explains his work with the EDDI African aid program

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joseph Segars discusses relations between Africans and African Americans

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Joseph Segars details programs underway to aid Sudan

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Joseph Segars laments the lack of African Americans in the Foreign Service

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Joseph Segars ponders his legacy