From Birmingham to the world, Condoleezza Rice


Condoleezza Rice
Date: 
Sun, 1954-11-14

Condoleezza Rice, an African American politician, administrator, secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, and writer was born on this date in 1954.

She was born Birmingham, AL, the only child of Angelena Rice and the Reverend John Wesley Rice, Jr. Her father became a minister at Westminster Presbyterian Church and her mother was a music teacher. Her name is a variation on the Italian musical term "con doloezza" which is a direction to play "with sweetness." Her father also worked as a high-school guidance counselor.

Young Rice was born the same year as the Brown v. Board of Education decision. She was eight when her schoolmate Denise McNair was killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church by white supremacists in 1963. Rice has said that growing up during segregation taught her determination against adversity and the need to be "twice as good" as non-minorities.

In 1967, the family moved to Denver when her father accepted an administrative position at the University of Denver. At age 15, Rice began classes with the goal of becoming a concert pianist. Her plans changed when she attended a course on international politics taught by Josef Korbel, the father of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. This experience sparked her interest in the Soviet Union and international relations and led her to call Korbel "one of the most central figures in my life." Rice enrolled at the University of Denver, where her father served as an assistant dean and taught a class called "The Black Experience in America."

In 1974, at age 19, Rice earned her bachelor's degree in political science, cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver. In 1975, she obtained her master's degree from Notre Dame. She first worked in the State Department in 1977, during the Carter administration, as an intern in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. At age 26, she received her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver. In addition to English, she speaks Russian, French, and Spanish.

Rice was a Democrat until 1982 when she changed her political affiliation to Republican after growing averse to former President Carter's foreign policy. She also was influenced by her father.

She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been awarded honorary doctorates from Morehouse College in 1991, the University of Alabama in 1994, Notre Dame in 1995, the National Defense University in 2002, the Mississippi College School of Law in 2003, the University of Louisville and Michigan State University in 2004. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Rice has been a member of many boards of directors. From 1989 through 1991, she served in the Bush Administration as Director, and then Senior Director, of Soviet and East European Affairs in the National Security Council, and a Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In 1986, while an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, she was Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1997, she was on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender-—Integrated Training in the Military.

As a writer, her books include "Germany Unified and Europe Transformed" (1995) with Philip Zelikow, "The Gorbachev Era" (1986) with Alexander Dallin, and "Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army" (1984).

She also has written numerous articles on Soviet and East European foreign and defense policy, and has addressed audiences in settings ranging from the U.S. Ambassador's Residence in Moscow to the Commonwealth Club to the 1992 and 2000 Republican National Conventions. As professor of political science, Dr. Rice has been on the Stanford faculty since 1981 and won the 1984 Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 1993 School of Humanities and Sciences Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching. In 1999, she completed tenure as Stanford University’s Provost, during which she was the institution's chief budget and academic officer.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice became Secretary of State on January 26, 2005. Prior to this, she had been the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor, since January 2001.

Reference:
U.S. Department of State,
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