Today Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan spoke to dignitaries and more than 50 high school students at Birmingham City Schools’ Central Office. His main goal was to get Birmingham students interested in careers at the CIA. He also acknowledged the CIA’s lack of diversity.
“We need to have people from all different backgrounds and experiences,” he says. “I don’t want the agency to be full of individuals who look like me, talk like me, who have similar backgrounds and experiences. I do think if you all are looking the same and acting the same you tend to have a ‘group-think’ which does not help us understand all the complexities of this world.”
Brennan took questions from and pictures with students. Woodlawn High School student Shannon Buchanan says Brennan impressed him:
“It was a major life-changing experience due to the fact that we as African Americans … aren’t seen in settings such as this. Some of us can actually rise above and make an example of ourselves.”
Before Brennan left for other engagements in town, Schools Superintendent Kelley Castlin-Gacutan presented him with a book about Birmingham and a drawing of civil rights heroes made by an artist who recently graduated from Birmingham’s Wenonah High School.