Politics and Government

Federal Government

What African Americans held top positions during the George W. Bush administration?

Although President George W. Bush appointed fewer African Americans to top positions than his immediate predecessor, blacks held important posts during his presidency. Significant among his appointees were Colin L. Powell, Rodney Paige, Alphonso Jackson, and Condoleezza Rice. Colin Powell (1937–) was secretary of state from 2001 to 2005. He had already achieved acclaim as a four-star general in the U.S. Army, and in 1987 was named the first black national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan. President George H. W. Bush appointed him chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989. In 2001 he became the first African-American secretary of state. When the 2008 presidential campaign was under way, Powell, a Republican, endorsed Barack Obama for the presidency. Rodney Paige (1933–) was the first African American and first school superintendent to become U.S. secretary of education. He drafted important education reform legislation, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Paige volunteered during the Bush presidential campaign of 1980 and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention that summer. Condoleezza Rice (1954–), diplomat and educator, was confirmed on January 28, 2005, as U.S. secretary of state, the second woman and the first African-American woman to hold that position. This led some to call her the most powerful woman in the world. Although in 1987 she was senior director of Soviet and Eastern European Affairs under President George H. W. Bush, and foreign policy advisor to President George W. Bush, her political career was best known while she was national security advisor and secretary of state. Alphonso Jackson (1945–) served as deputy secretary and chief operating officer of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 2001 to 2004, before his promotion to full secretary. Before his appointment, Jackson had worked with housing authorities in St. Louis, Dallas, and in the District of Columbia.

Under the George W. Bush administration, Condoleezza Rice, a political scientist at Stanford University, became the country’s first black woman to be named secretary of state.


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