Theodore (Ted) Britton Jr.’s speaking engagements draw on his varied public and private career during which he broke the color bar keeping African Americans out of the Marines, traveled extensively and served as an ambassador during the administration of former President Gerald Ford.
His luncheon address at the World War II Roundtable Sept. 18 in Atlanta was the latest in an ongoing career that keeps the 87-year-old former U.S. ambassador to Barbados and the current honorary consul of Albania for the Southeast on the go.
His upcoming engagements include an Oct. 6 speech at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he will be the guest of honor at the Museum of the Marine and on Oct. 13 he is to speak at a banquet, also in Atlanta, honoring the Montford Point Marines, the first African Americans to join the U.S. Marine Corps.
Additionally, he is engaged to speak on Oct. 27 at the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, an event that holds special meaning for him for several reasons including that Barbados is where he served as ambassador from 1974-77.
During this period he served concurrently as the U.S. special representative to Antigua, Dominica, St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, St. Lucia and St. Vincent.
Coincidentally, at the Barbados event he will meet Larry Palmer, the current U.S. ambassador and a graduate of Emory University who is originally from Augusta, across the Savannah River from North Augusta, S.C., where Mr. Britton was born.
Mr. Britton told GlobalAtlanta that he would recollect at the embassy how as ambassador he persuaded the Barbados government to allow the embassy to arm the Marines on duty breaking a long-standing tradition there.
He has been asked to speak often since he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on June 28 for his services as a Marine during World War II.
Mr. Britton was honored with the medal during a ceremony held at the Marine barracks not far from the U.S. Capitol in Washington along with 400 other African-American Marines, mostly in their 80s, who trained at Montford Point, a facility at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Less well recognized than the Tuskegee Airmen, African Americans who flew in World War II, many of the 20,000 Marines trained at Montford Point from 1942-49 also fought in the war.
Mr. Britton was trained for military intelligence and administrative duties and sent to Guadalcanal in the Southwestern Pacific after the battle against the Japanese for the island was over.
He was discharged in 1946 and attended City College in New York and then New York University. Called back for duty in Korea, he did not go, although he was willing, and was discharged a second time in 1951.
Prior to entering government service, Mr. Britton was a specialist in finance and real estate management and served as president of the American Baptist Management Corp.
During this phase of his life he saw more of the world through his travels to Central America as a real estate manager for the company.
His next career step was with the federal department of Housing and Urban Development until he was appointed as ambassador to Barbados.
After leaving his diplomatic post in Barbados, he was elected president of the United Mutual Life Insurance Co.
He has maintained a life-long interest in diplomatic affairs and international activities having participated in many U.S. Information Agency programs involving conferences with housing officials in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.
Although retired and settled in Atlanta, he’s hardly inactive and besides his duties as honorary consul serves on the advisory board of the Atlanta chapter of the People to People International organization that was started in 1956 by former President Eisenhower and fosters cross-cultural understanding in an interconnected world through a variety programs.
Mr. Britton said that many of the People to People programs are geared to youths, adding that he most enjoys speaking to students as a means of encouraging them to read and educate themselves about the world.
Other members of the Atlanta board include Mary Eisenhower, granddaughter of Mr. Eisenhower and former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Mr. Britton also serves as the honorary consul of Albania, a position he was asked to fill by Albanian officials whom he got to know through his international activities.
He may be reached by email.