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Black FBI Agents Reflect on Bureau’s Diversity on 100th Anniversary of First Black Special Agent

Nicole Dunn, a special agent in the FBI’s Houston Field Office.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

James Wormley Jones made history when he became the first black FBI agent on Dec. 2, 1919 – 100 years ago.

To celebrate the role that black agents have played since then, the FBI spoke to current and former African American agents.

The stories of Jones and other African Americans who broke the bureau’s color line has inspired many current agents.

“I stand on the shoulders of a great group of men and women who persevered through a lot,” said Nicole Dunn, a special agent in the FBI’s Houston Field Office. “Their accomplishments are what make it possible for me to sit here today.”

While there has been tremendous progress, much more is needed. African Americans make up less than 5% of the FBI’s 13,000 special agents.

Michael Mason, who led the FBI’s field offices in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento before leading the bureau’s Criminal Investigative Division, said he encourages young people of color to consider joining the FBI.

“At the end of the day, if we’re going to want this country to be a safe place, an inclusive place, a place that respects civil rights and the legislation that was passed in 1968, then we have to be part of that,” Mason said. “You can’t be a spectator and say, ‘OK, when the attitude and the environment gets rights and receptive and embraces me, then I’ll come in.’ No, you’ve got to come in and make it that kind of environment.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau is boosting its recruiting efforts to add more diversity.

“We’re working to change this,” Wray said, adding more African Americans are joining the training academy.

Click here to hear interviews with current and former FBI agents.


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