Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of Shirley Temple Black as Chief of Protocol for the State Department.

July 20, 1976

SHIRLEY, it's a great honor for me to have the opportunity of asking the Ambassador to swear you in to this very important post. It's a great reward for the outstanding service that you have given, first as a Representative at the United Nations and, more recently, in Ghana, in Africa.

Your record in each case was superb. You've got a great challenge here, and I am absolutely certain that with your training in the various areas of diplomacy, plus your long experience in trying to serve the public in various causes, your service here will be the kind that will be in the best interest of our country.

We are delighted to have you back. We will be seeing a good bit of you, as the Ambassador knows, and we look forward to those opportunities. And I am sure you are going to be with us tonight, are you not?


THE PRESIDENT. We have to swear you in, first, but we are looking forward to that.

Mr. Ambassador, will you please swear in Shirley Temple Black as the new Protocol Officer?

[At this point, Stuart W. Rockwell, Deputy Chief of Protocol, administered the oath of office.]

AMBASSADOR BLACK. Mr. President, it's a high honor indeed that you have bestowed upon me. It's a great honor to be the first woman Chief of Protocol for the United States of America.

I don't know why, Mr. President, it took 200 years for one of us to get the job, but I will do all my very best work to try to fill all the various assorted sizes of shoes of the distinguished men who have been Chief of Protocol.

I also want to say, Mr. President, I think I met you first almost 10 years ago, and it's a very extreme honor for me to be serving--during our Bicentennial Year--serving a man who I consider to be one of the most honest, most important men I have known in my life.

And so, for that reason, I again thank you for this appointment and, also, for the last appointment as United States Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana.

I have to tell you, Mr. President, one more thing--that in order to take this job, I had to go to my African chief in Cape Coast, Ghana, because I was an honorary - abontsendomhene, or a deputy chief for the Oguaa Traditional Area. I went to the chief on July 4, this year, and I said, "May I have your permission to not only remain as your honorary African chief but I am now going to be Chief of Protocol." He smiled; he was very pleased, and wished me well.

I thank you, Mr. President. I am honored to serve. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. Let me further explain Shirley's first meeting with me. She dared the congressional route to Washington, following Art Younger. And Shirley was one of several candidates, and I thought she would make an excellent Member of the House of Representatives. But fate didn't turn it out that way, so you went the diplomatic route in your efforts to come to Washington. You have been so successful in the latter, it's probably better that you didn't win it before. [Laughter]

AMBASSADOR BLACK. Mr. President, I think you are an excellent President. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. It is real nice to see you, and the very best to you.

Note: The President spoke at 2:37 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at the Swearing In of Shirley Temple Black as Chief of Protocol for the State Department. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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