Former U.S. Ambassador Charles Stith speaks for ECSU Commencement

Kesha Williams
December 05, 2011

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Elizabeth City State University will hold its 153rd Commencement Ceremony at 10 a.m. on Dec. 10 in the R. L. Vaughan Center. Charles Stith, director of the African Presidential Archives and Research Center at Boston University and former U.S. ambassador to the United Republic of Tanzania, will be the guest speaker.

A native of St. Louis, Stith, 62, is a minister, author and founder and former national president of Organization for a New Equality, or O.N.E., which is dedicated to expanding economic opportunities for minorities and women.

Former President Bill Clinton named Stith as the U.S. ambassador to the United Republic of Tanzania one month after the August 1998 bombing of the embassy in Dar es Salaam. Stith served in that position from 1998 to 2001, helping the embassy to emerge with stability from the trauma. Under his leadership, Stith set a new standard for U.S. embassies in promoting U.S. trade and investment in Africa. He assisted the Tanzanian government in its efforts to become the first sub-Saharan African nation to reach the decision point for debt relief under the enhanced Heavily-Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC).

Stith is a graduate of Baker University, the Interdenominational Theological Center's Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, and Harvard University Divinity School. During his tenure at O.N.E., he helped negotiate and broker the first comprehensive community reinvestment agreement in the country. The agreement committed Boston financial institutions to $500 million in mortgage and commercial lending to low- and moderate-income and minority communities in Massachusetts.

He later served on the Community Reinvestment Act's Regulatory Agency Working Group, chaired by then-Comptroller of the Currency Eugene Ludwig. Stith was one of the architects of the regulations redefining the Community Reinvestment Act, which has resulted in nearly $2 trillion in credit and capital for low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color.

Prior to heading O.N.E., Stith was senior minister of the historic Union United Methodist Church in Boston. He was an appointee of then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. In addition, he has served an adjunct faculty member at Boston College and Harvard Divinity School. He also has served on the National Advisory Boards of FannieMae and Fleet InCity Bank, the editorial board of WCVB-TV, and the boards of West Insurance Inc. and the Wang Center for Performing Arts in Boston. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from the University of South Carolina, Clark Atlanta University and Baker University.

Currently, Stith serves on the faculty of Boston University's Department of International Relations and teaches a course on African Globalization: Opportunities and Obstacles. He also is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is the author of two books, "For Such a Time as This: African Leadership Challenges" and "Political Religion." Articles he has written have been published in the Wall Street Journal, Denver Post, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and the Chicago Sun Times.

You can watch the Commencement Ceremony online at www/ecsu.edu/it/ecsulive/ or on W18BB-TV on TV and online at www.ecsu.edu/wrvs/w18bbtvlive/. Coverage will start at 9:45AM.