Condoleezza RiceAt this point in time the name and image of Condoleezza Rice is commonplace among the majority of informed Americans.
As the first female to serve as the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, Dr. Rice was propelled even further into the spotlight following the attacks on America on September 11th 2001. I too, like most Americans, saw a lot more of Condi, as she is known by her many friends and colleagues, after September 11. Clearly she was intelligent and always remained calm and poised in the face of adversity and standing before the cameras.
I also noticed and appreciated her articulation and was even moved by what seemed like her stoic yet compassionate presentation. It was not until I read Dr. Rice’s biography, Condi, by Antonia Felix, however that she gained my utmost respect. By the 21st century a black successful black female is not as uncommon as it was fifty years ago. Black women had fought their way to the top in many arenas, including political such as the U. S.
Senate. What is truly amazing about Condi’s story is speed and finesse with which she ascended to the top of everything she took on. An endearing friendship and mutual loyalty with both of the George Bushes surely did not hurt her. Condi’s success was hardly limited to the world of politics.
She approached music, fitness, academics, sports, religion, and family with the same decisiveness, consistency, and determination that she brought to the public sector. Condi is also no stranger to controversy. Now more than ever she faces a host of critics, especially regarding her supposed knowledge of possible terrorist threats before they came to pass on September 11. Her Republican politics made her less than popular among African Americans although she maintains a more liberal perspective on social issues and remains pro-choice. In spite of her ups and downs it is ultimately her unfaltering character to which she can attribute her success as well as her status as what many call the most powerful woman in politics.
The high academic pursuits of the Rice family did not exactly begin with Condoleezza and her generation. The foundation of this idea can be seen in chapter 2 of her autobiography in which the author begins the chronological record with a look at Julia Head Rice. Julia was born into slavery, albeit house slavery which was held in higher regards than field slavery. House slaves worked directly side by side with their master’s families and were generally more informed and privileged than field slaves.
Julia’s ability to read and desire to better herself and her children served as a hallmark for the Rice family legacy. It was Julia’s son John who became the first Rice to leave the farm and head and pursue a college career. Condi even discussed her “Granddaddy Rice” and his journey in 1918 to Stillman College in Alabama in her speech at the Republican National Convention. Upon the completion of his program at Stillman, John was ordained as a Presbyterian minister and according to Condi, the Rice’s have been “Presbyterian and educated ever since”. John eventually reared his son John Wesley Rice, Condi’s father, in the same manner.
He too was educated and became an ordained minister like his father before him. Her mother Angelena Ray was raised in a similar fashion and excelled at playing the piano from an early age. Both Condi’s maternal and paternal lineages found education to be the ultimate redemption in segregated Alabama in which the Jim Crowe laws sought to make all black citizens less than equal with their white counterparts. By the age of twenty-four John W. Rice had earned his master of divinity and was working as a minister as well as a teacher and coach in a local high school.
His soon to be wife, Angelena, was also working, as a high school music teacher in a middleclass suburb or Birmingham, Alabama. John and Angelena were not the only members of their families to engulf themselves in academia as John’s sister, Condi’s Aunt, received a PhD in English literature and wrote a book on Charles Dickens in 1989. Condi has been known .