Actor Viola Davis is set to join the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement, as announced by President Joe Biden on Tuesday, September 26. This council will play a crucial role in advising Washington on strengthening its connections with African communities. 

The establishment of this council stems from Washington’s strategic efforts to emphasize the significance of the African region and address the challenges posed by China and Russia to United States interests in this increasingly vital area.  

The initial plans for the council were unveiled in December of the previous year during the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, which aimed to foster deeper ties between Washington and African nations. 

The council’s responsibilities encompass a wide spectrum of issues, including enhancing relations between African communities and the United States, promoting trade and investment, and facilitating educational exchanges.  

Judd Devermont, the National Security Council’s senior director for African Affairs, conveyed these details to reporters. 

Heading the council will be Silvester Beaman, the Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who delivered the benediction at President Biden’s inauguration in 2021. 

In addition to Viola Davis, notable members of the council include Patrick Gaspard, the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress think tank; C.D. Glin, president of the PepsiCo Foundation and global head of social impact for PepsiCo; and Almaz Negash, founder of the African Diaspora Network, among others. 

Viola Davis’s achievements have been remarkable, as she recently clinched a Grammy for her audio recording of her memoir “Finding Me.” This accolade has granted her membership into the exclusive ranks of EGOT winners, having previously secured an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony award. 

The White House, in a press release, lauded Viola Davis as “a revered artist, activist, producer, philanthropist” who among other things “has partnered with multiple programs to eliminate child hunger in the United States”. 

The United States is aiming to position itself as a stronger partner for African nations, particularly in response to China’s expansion of influence through funding infrastructure projects in Africa and other regions.  

Russia, too, has been actively pursuing greater influence and business opportunities on the African continent since hosting its first Africa summit in 2019 and sending troops into Ukraine. Notably, Russia’s Wagner mercenary group remains active in the region. 



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