Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family

Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family

Condoleezza Rice

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 0307888479

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Condoleezza Rice has excelled as a diplomat, political scientist, and concert pianist.  Her achievements run the gamut from helping to oversee the collapse of communism in Europe and the decline of the Soviet Union, to working to protect the country in the aftermath of 9-11, to becoming only the second woman - and the first black woman ever -- to serve as Secretary of State.
But until she was 25 she never learned to swim.
Not because she wouldn't have loved to, but because when she was a little girl in Birmingham, Alabama, Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor decided he'd rather shut down the city's pools than give black citizens access.
Throughout the 1950's, Birmingham's black middle class largely succeeded in insulating their children from the most corrosive effects of racism, providing multiple support systems to ensure the next generation would live better than the last.  But by 1963, when Rice was applying herself to her fourth grader's lessons, the situation had grown intolerable.  Birmingham was an environment where blacks were expected to keep their head down and do what they were told -- or face violent consequences. That spring two bombs exploded in Rice’s neighborhood amid a series of chilling Klu Klux Klan attacks.  Months later, four young girls lost their lives in a particularly vicious bombing.
So how was Rice able to achieve what she ultimately did?
Her father, John, a minister and educator, instilled a love of sports and politics.  Her mother, a teacher, developed Condoleezza’s passion for piano and exposed her to the fine arts.  From both, Rice learned the value of faith in the face of hardship and the importance of giving back to the community.  Her parents’ fierce unwillingness to set limits propelled her to the venerable halls of Stanford University, where she quickly rose through the ranks to become the university’s second-in-command.  An expert in Soviet and Eastern European Affairs, she played a leading role in U.S. policy as the Iron Curtain fell and the Soviet Union disintegrated.  Less than a decade later, at the apex of the hotly contested 2000 presidential election, she received the exciting news – just shortly before her father’s death – that she would go on to the White House as the first female National Security Advisor. 
As comfortable describing lighthearted family moments as she is recalling the poignancy of her mother’s cancer battle and the heady challenge of going toe-to-toe with Soviet leaders, Rice holds nothing back in this remarkably candid telling. This is the story of Condoleezza Rice that has never been told, not that of an ultra-accomplished world leader, but of a little girl – and a young woman -- trying to find her place in a sometimes hostile world and of two exceptional parents, and an extended family and community, that made all the difference.

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where Aunt Theresa was a faculty member. Gee became a teacher and later principal at a school for children with special needs. Daddy was also very close to Mother’s brother Alto. He was unable to convince Alto to play football—Alto said that being hit once was enough for him—but the two became like brothers. Alto was incredibly handsome, with dark, wavy hair and an athletic build. As Gee would later do, he started college but soon quit. He joined the army, where he used his extraordinary talents

young. I realized that Daddy was right when, shortly before graduation, the student who had moderated the town hall came to see me and asked how he could be more effective at leadership. In the classroom, I was always careful not to put a student down for a comment, no matter how inappropriate. To do so is to freeze the rest of the students, who will fear humiliation. The power relationship is unequal, and students feel it. I decided that I’d try to remember that in my encounters with them as

particularly bad idea was to have a photo op of the governor and me sitting in front of a fireplace discussing foreign policy. It looked like a faux Oval Office shot and was properly ridiculed. I decided to go home to California. The return to California gave me a chance to spend quality time with my father. I watched the ups and downs in Florida, my mood swinging with every court decision. Sometimes Daddy seemed to be tracking, becoming agitated and shedding tears when the news was bad. I left

with ten prison employees and twenty-nine prisoners dead. Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685–1750): German composer highly regarded for his religious pieces and organ works. Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770–1827): Influential pianist and composer of symphonies. Before he turned thirty, he began to lose his hearing, but he continued to produce extraordinary pieces despite his deafness later in life. Berlin Wall (1961–1989): Guarded barrier separating West Berlin from East Berlin and East Germany during

practice, however, he often pursued a more confrontational stance with the United States and its allies. In 1964, he was replaced by Leonid Brezhnev. King, Jr., Martin Luther (1929–1968): Baptist minister, civil rights activist, and advocate of nonviolent civil disobedience. In 1955 and 1956, King led the Montgomery bus boycott, an early demonstration of the power of peaceful resistance, and in 1957, he helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). His powerful speeches,

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