By Janelle Berry
Special to the NNPA News Wire from the HU News Service
The Central Intelligence Agency and a national organization that financially helps students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) announced during a press conference recently they are working on a plan to increase the number of African-American spies and analysts at the nation’s foremost spying agency.
Johnny Taylor Jr., president of The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), and CIA Director John Brennan said they had not worked out the details of the plan, but had agreed to make increasing the number of African-Americans at the agency a priority.
There are not enough Black agents at the CIA, Brennan said, and he hopes an allegiance with the fund and his Diversity & Inclusion Staff, where an African-American woman is the chair, will begin to solve the problem
“What we need to do is make sure that we have the capabilities, the expertise; the individuals with the perspectives, and be able to bring those together and marry those perspectives so that we can provide those insights to our consumers,” Brennan said as part of the TMCF’s three-day conference and gala.
“Inclusion and diversity are something that is the reflection, I think, of our mission, which is to make sure that we have the opportunity as well as the capability to provide to the president and others the deep rich insights that are necessary in order to advance in national security.”
The fund has supplied $250 million in funding to publicly-funded HBCUs since its inception in 1987, it says.
As part of the process, Brennan said he wants to ensure that his senior managers are going to the colleges to recruit African-American candidates and that they are mentoring and sponsoring individuals within the CIA. Additionally, they should be coming up with ideas about how to realize their goals to increase diversity in leadership positions.
Taylor said the CIA will find that students at HBCUs are just as qualified and talented to work for the CIA as students from ivy leagues.
The Thurgood Marshall fund, which is named after the nation’s first Black U.S. Supreme Court justice, will act as a liaison by providing their names to the CIA, Taylor said.
“There are computer science engineer geniuses on these campuses that no one knew existed because they weren’t at MIT,” he said. “They weren’t at Stanford. That’s our job to provide. We will play a role in introducing that diversity.”
Taylor said his organization will help by exposing Black high school students to the CIA and its career opportunities, then introduce the needed CIA skill sets into high school curriculums. The organization will encourage high school students to attend college, and introduce them to the majors that the CIA is interested in to make them more desirable as applicants.
Students within the pipeline can choose to intern with the CIA and eventually begin a career at the CIA, Taylor said.