1:30 PM – New Haven Free Public Library, Community Program Room, 133 Elm Street, New Haven (entrance on corner of Temple Street)
A Diplomat of Consequence (Christopher Teal, 2019) – 47min – New England premiere
Ebenezer Bassett had been an abolitionist, educator, and activist during the U.S. Civil War. When the United States emerged from that war, friends such as Frederick Douglass pushed President Grant to appoint black Americans like Bassett to senior government positions. Bassett became the first American to integrate the diplomatic corps, leaving a lasting impact on U.S. foreign policy. Bassett was a role model not simply for his symbolic importance, however. He was a civil rights leader and among the earliest advocates to promote human rights in foreign policy. His courage in the face of threats during his tenure place him among the greats of diplomatic and American history. Along with public archives on Bassett’s life, newly found information from family members and never before seen material from his four decade relationship with Frederick Douglass are explored in the documentary.
This is not just an historical documentary, however. Bassett’s legacy demonstrates to broader audiences what diplomats have accomplished and what they do in today’s complicated environment. Bringing in contemporary voices of minority diplomats is a crucial component of why diversity in foreign affairs still is imperative for successful engagement today. A Diplomat of Consequence’s release in 2019 coincides with the 150th anniversary of Bassett’s historic diplomatic appointment to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.