Condoleeza Rice Memoir & Interview

Condoleeza Rice Memoir & Interview


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



I really wish that we had passed a comprehensive immigration bill because that would’ve really

helped our country. We came close, but we couldn’t. I wish that after the war against Saddam

Hussein we had been more effective at rebuilding Iraq quickly. I think had we done it from

the provinces, in, rather than from Baghdad, out, we might have been more successful.



Books by and about Condoleeza Rice

Twice as Good: Condolezza Rice and Her Path to Power (Review)  / Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family

Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me

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A Remarkably-Revealing, Evocative, Fully Humanizing Opus

Kam Williams Interviews and Reviews

Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family

By Condoleezza Rice


John and Angelena Rice were extraordinary, ordinary people. They were middle-class folks who loved God, family, and their country. I don’t think they ever read a book on parenting. They were just good at it…

They built a world together that wove the fibers of our life into a seamless tapestry of high expectations and unconditional love. And somehow they raised their little girl in Jim Crow Birmingham to believe that even if she couldn’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter, she could be President of the United States…

Good parents are a blessing. Mine were determined to give me a chance to live a unique and happy life. In that they succeeded, and that is why every night I begin my prayers saying, “Lord, I can never thank you enough for the parents you gave me.”

—Excerpted from the Author’s Note (pg. x)

Given all that Condoleezza Rice went on to accomplish in life, it’s hard to believe that she was born in Birmingham, Alabama in the Fifties during the repressive reign of Jim Crow segregation. But somehow, despite spending her formative years in a city where state-sanctioned discrimination served to frustrate the aspirations of most other African-Americans, she miraculously managed to overachieve with the help of doting parents blessed with the sense to recognize their gifted daughter’s great potential and to nourish her dreams the best they could.

The former secretary of State pays tribute to that herculean effort in Extraordinary, Ordinary People, a remarkably-revealing memoir by a very private, public figure who has to this juncture in life played her cards pretty close to the vest. But you had a sense something might be up when she recently played piano behind Aretha at a concert in Philadelphia. And after reading this intimate autobiography it’s clear that underneath that seemingly-steely veneer beats the heart is an introspective sister who’s yearning to recognize her roots.

For in unusually-vulnerable, and disarmingly soul-baring style, she discusses everything from what type of man she’s looking for (“I’d always hoped to marry within my race.”) to her fear of being rendered barren by a surgical procedure for uterine fibroids to being an intellectually-curious child prodigy. She also tackles head-on a variety of controversial questions often debated within the black community, like social status based on skin color, and whether the primary beneficiary of desegregation has been a black bourgeoisie which had barely participated in the Civil Rights Movement.

However, it is her reflections on traumatizing childhood experiences in Birmingham in the Sixties which prove to be the most compelling. For instance, she recalls how her dad and other armed men routinely patrolled the neighborhood to keep the Klu Klux Klan at bay.

Sadly, they were ultimately unsuccessful that fateful day in 1963 on which four little girls attending Sunday school were killed by a bomb planted by racists in an unspeakable act she refers to as “homegrown terrorism.” Then nine year-old Condoleezza was attending services at a nearby church at the time. Here, she describes not only what it was like to feel the shock waves from the blast, but also to witness the widespread grief and fear which gripped so many folks during the aftermath.

In sum, an evocative opus fully humanizing a once-inscrutable Madam Secretary. I just have one question: May I call you Condi at the homecoming party?  

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Other Reviews

Having served under two Bush presidencies—as national security advisor and secretary of state—Rice is well known for her icy demeanor and steely disposition. This memoir presents a young woman deeply attached to her devoted parents, who encouraged her at every step of her life to overcome racism, sexism, and her own personal doubts. Her roots are deep in the South, with a family that pridefully skirted racism—never using the “colored” facilities or riding in the back of the bus. Her mother, Angelena, was a cultured teacher who taught her piano, while her father, John, was a Presbyterian minister and later a college administrator who, despite his Republican politics, strongly admired black radicals, developing a friendship with Stokely Carmichael.

He declined to march with Martin Luther King in nonviolent protests and was more inclined to sit on the front porch with a loaded shotgun to ward off white night riders. The Rice family personally knew the young girls who were killed in the church bombing, one of the more violent episodes the family endured before they eventually left the South. Rice presents a frank, poignant, and loving portrait of a family that maintained its closeness through cancer, death, career ups and downs, and turbulent changes in American society.—Vanessa Bush Review, Booklist

“[R]ecords a thrilling, inspiring life of achievement.—Publishers Weekly Looking for a blow-by-blow account of Condoleezza Rice’s years as George W. Bush’s Secretary of State? You would do well to find one of the many Rice biographies already on the shelves. In this remarkably clear-eyed and candid autobiography, Rice focuses instead on her fascinating coming-of-age during the stormy civil rights years in Birmingham, Alabama.—Bookpage

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Dr. Rice Makes a House Call  

Kam Williams Interviews Condoleeza Rice


Condoleezza Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama on November 14, 1954, the only child to bless the loving union of John and Angelena Rice. In spite of the considerable disadvantages she encountered just by virtue of growing up black in the South during the days of Jim Crow, she somehow managed to overachieve, first academically, and then career-wise.     

In terms of credentials, she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science, cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver in 1974; her master’s from the University of Notre Dame in 1975; and her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1981.

Dr. Rice is currently a professor of business and political science at Stanford University and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution. From January 2005 to 2009, she served as the 66th Secretary of State of the United States. Before serving as America’s chief diplomat, she served as assistant to the president for national security affairs (national security advisor) from January 2001 to 2005.

She joined the Stanford University faculty as a professor of political science in 1981 and served as Stanford University’s provost from 1993 to 1999. She was a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution from 1991 to 1993 and returned to the Hoover Institution after serving as provost until 2001. As a professor, Rice won two of the highest teaching honors: the 1984 Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 1993 School of Humanities and Sciences Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.

She has authored and co-authored several books, including Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft (1995), with Philip Zelikow; The Gorbachev Era (1986), with Alexander Dallin, Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army (1984) and Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family (October 2010).

Dr. Rice served as a member of the boards of directors for the Chevron, Charles Schwab and Transamerica corporations. She was a founding board member of the Center for a New Generation, an educational support fund for schools in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park, California, and was vice president of the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula. She currently serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of America.

She has been involved in a number of humanitarian pursuits, most notably with PEPFAR (The President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief) and in creating and serving on the board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Both endeavors increased aid to developing countries and the world’s poorest, most disadvantaged populations. PEPFAR was the largest commitment of funds from any single nation to combat a single disease at any time in history and the Millennium Challenge Corporation promotes sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.

She also serves as a member of the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In addition, she is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Here, the previously-very private Dr. Rice reflects about her life while talking about “Extraordinary, Ordinary People,” her strikingly-revealing memoir about her childhood.

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Condoleezza Rice: Hi, this is Condi Rice.

Kam Williams: Dr. Rice, thanks so much for the time. I’m honored to be speaking with you.

Condoleezza Rice: Well, thank you. How are you?

Kam Williams: Very well, thanks. Do you know Arnold Rampersad. He’s a friend of mine who also teaches at Stanford? 

Condoleezza Rice: I certainly do, absolutely. He’s a really good person. A really good person. As a matter of fact, he came to Stanford when I was Provost. 

Kam Williams: Tell him hi, the next time you bump into him on campus.

Condoleezza Rice: I will. And if you come out to visit him, please stop by to say hello. 

Kam Williams: Absolutely. Did you have a chance to read my review of your book?

Condoleezza Rice: I did, thank you very much. It was very, very generous.

Kam Williams: That was my honest take. I really, really enjoyed it. My first question is why did you decide to write a memoir focusing on your childhood, as opposed to one about your illustrious political career?

Condoleezza Rice: Well, I didn’t feel that I could do justice to this story of my parents and their generation, and all that they did to make it possible for me to be who I am, if I sort of just put it at the beginning of a book about my last eight years in foreign policy. I will write that book, in fact, I’m working on it now. But first, I wanted to answer the question I’m most frequently asked: “How did you become who you are?” Well, you had to know John and Angelena Rice. So that’s what I wanted to help people do with this book. 

Kam Williams: Children’s book author Irene Smalls is curious about how hard it was to go public with so many intimate aspects of your life?

Condoleezza Rice: That’s an interesting question because I’m a very private person. But I felt that if I wrote this book, I had to be willing at least to talk about some of my struggles, whether in my personal life, health crises, or the deaths of my parents, because there can too easily be a perception of me that my life just went from A to Z uninterrupted, without any ups and downs, and that’s not a fair representation. 

Kam Williams: I really appreciated how the book really, fully humanized you, because you shared so much of your personal feelings about the significant touchstones in your life. 

Condoleezza Rice: Well, thank you. It was actually fun to write, because I went back to interview people my parents had taught or who had worked with them, and I learned a lot about them that I hadn’t known. 

Kam Williams: Reverend Florine Thompson asks, “How has the Jim Crow Birmingham experience affected your life? How has it defined who you are today? Did this make you more determined to excel? Did it foster greater drive?”

Condoleezza Rice: I believe that Reverend Thompson’s hit on something. My parents, I and a lot of my friends growing up in that community had tremendous drive. There was almost a sense of, “We’ll show them! We’ll show them that we can be twice as good, despite everything.” I think that was something that motivated people who could have instead been consumed by bitterness and fallen into victimhood. I chalk it up to my parents and grandparents and our whole community that we saw the situation as a challenge to be overcome rather than as something that might prevent us from succeeding.

Kam Williams: I remember your mentioning in the book that Freeman Hrabowski also hailed from your neighborhood. 

Condoleezza Rice: Yes, Freeman, and Mary Bush, Sheryl McCarthy, and many others. That community produced an abundance of accomplished kids. 

Kam Williams: Reverend Thompson, asks “What role has spirituality played in your growth and development over the years?”

Condoleezza Rice: Spirituality and faith are at the core of who I am. I was born to deeply religious parents who were able to give me that rock solid foundation in the church and in my faith which really has served me so well.  

Kam Williams: How so? What do you mean by that?

Condoleezza Rice: It’s so much a part of me that it’s almost hard to describe myself in the absence of it. I know that for me it means asking for guidance, and that in the toughest times there’s a personal savior that I can rely on. And I’m very grateful to my parents for giving me that.

Kam Williams: Director/author Hisani Dubose says, “I have always wondered with the outstanding qualifications you have, is there a way you can put your education and experience to work outside of teaching or writing?”

Condoleezza Rice: I really believe that you can. Not only do I think it is a part of public service to help young people find their way, just as professors had helped me find mine, but I’ve been very involved in K-12 education issues. I started a program back in 1992 called the Center for a New Generation, an afterschool enrichment program. I really do fervently believe that every child deserves to have the kind of access to educational opportunities, broadly defined, including music and sports, that I enjoyed. So, I’m trying to do my part, and I believe that all of us with a privileged background who are fortunate enough to have had that kind of access have a responsibility to try to pass it on. 

Kam Williams: FSU grad Laz Lyles would like to know what you enjoy doing in your spare time.

Condoleezza Rice: Well, I love to watch football. [Laughs] I actually really love to watch almost any competition with a score at the end. I love sports. I play golf now, which is relatively new for me. I only took it up about five years ago. I also like playing piano, and I love being with my family and friends. 

Kam Williams: Where do you find time for golf and all that, being such a workaholic? 

Condoleezza Rice: I’ve never really been a workaholic. I work very hard, but I also enjoy playing. I think it’s important to have a balanced and well-rounded life.

Kam Williams: Larry Greenberg says, “I’m interested in Condoleezza Rice the musician. Led Zeppelin was my favorite band when I was a kid, too. Do you have a favorite Led Zeppelin song and can you play it?”

Condoleezza Rice: I do have a favorite Zeppelin song, “Larry, Black Dog.”  But it’s a little hard to play on the piano. [LOL] So, I stick to playing Brahms, but I love listening to Led Zeppelin, and I’ve also been a big fan of Earth Wind and Fire since the Seventies and of The Gap Band since the Eighties. 

Kam Williams: Harriet Pakula Teweles, asks, “What kind of music do you like to play on the piano when you’re playing for your own relaxation and enjoyment?

Condoleezza Rice: I play classical music almost exclusively. I never mastered jazz or gospel in the way that my mother did. She was a fine improvisational musician. I pretty much have to stick to what’s written on the page. Fortunately, I started very young, so I read music very well. And my favorite composers to play are Brahms and Mozart.

Kam Williams: Yale grad Tommy Russell says, “I play piano just like you. What are you currently playing and practicing? Is there a piece that you love but struggle with?  That would be Scherzo No. 1 in B minor by Chopin for me–I can’t play it as well as Vladimir Horowitz.”

Condoleezza Rice: [Chuckles] Oh yeah, I know that piece that Scherzo. It’s a very difficult one. I play a lot of chamber music, and I’m currently learning the three Schumann Fantasy Pieces which I plan to play at a benefit concert in Maryland with a good friend of mine from Boston who’s a professional cellist. It’s for a great charity which puts good instruments into the schools. The only playing I do in public these days is for charity concerts like the one that I did for the Queen of Soul to get music into our schools. I think it’s just horrible that music programs are disappearing. As for something that’s hard for me to play, Tommy, before I leave this Earth I’m hoping to play Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto. 

KW: Harriet asks, “What was it like playing backup for Aretha Franklin? You looked so great at the concert grand when you were accompanying her and so comfortable when you were playing your solo. Have you ever speculated on what your life might have been like, or might be like, as a concert pianist?

Condoleezza Rice: Oh, that’s a really good question. First of all, it was really wonderful playing with Aretha. I knew that she knew what she was doing, so all I had to do was sit in the background and vamp a little bit. [Laughs] I didn’t have to worry about that part of the program. But playing Mozart was far more challenging, because I hadn’t played with an orchestra since I was 18 years-old. It was a great experience, but I had to work very hard t prepare for that. Sure, I’ve speculated about what my life might have been like as a musician, but I’m afraid I came to the conclusion that I probably would’ve either been teaching piano or maybe gotten to play at Nordstrom’s department store.    

Kam Williams: Harriet notes that, “Wendy Wasserstein once explained to her mother how hard it was to have a relationship after she’d won the Pulitzer Prize. What kind of man is out there who can maintain a relationship of equals with a Secretary of State?”

Condoleezza Rice: Oh, I think there are plenty of men out there who are capable and accomplished in their own realm. You don’t have to be in the same field. I’ve often been asked, “Didn’t you want to get married?” And of course I wanted to get married, but you have to fall in love and want to marry a particular person. You don’t get married in the abstract. So, although there were people I felt I might have married, it just never happened. 

Kam Williams: Wise guy Jimmy Bayan asks, “Are you dating anyone? C’mon, ‘fess up! Who’s the lucky guy? You can say. You’re a private citizen now!”

Condoleezza Rice: [LOL] I am, Jimmy, and I believe in having a private life, too, so I’m not going to answer that question.

Kam Williams: Tommy observes: “You say you always hoped to marry within your race. Can you answer honestly, Ms. Rice, about your perception of the number of eligible African-American bachelors in your circle? Is there a dearth of black men?

Condoleezza Rice: Well, of course, all of the statistics say there are fewer eligible black men in my circle. But I’ve never thought of it that way. I believe that if the right person came into my life that would have been terrific. When I said I had always hoped to marry in my race, I really do mean that. That doesn’t mean I absolutely wouldn’t marry outside of it, but there’s a culture and traditions to maintain, and I have great pride in them, and I always thought it would be wonderful to share that with somebody of my race.   

Kam Williams: Movie theater manager Malik Hayes says, “Some time ago, there was talk of you possibly becoming some type of advisor to a sports franchise. Did that ever materialize?”

Condoleezza Rice: Well, it hasn’t yet materialized that I went into sports management, but I haven’t ruled it out yet, either. I only half-jokingly remarked that I’d love to be the commissioner of the NFL. But as I recently told current Commissioner Roger Goodell, that job looked a lot more appealing when I was struggling with the Russians and the Iranians everyday. Now, from Northern California, it looks a lot tougher. And it’s a job that he’s handling very well, by the way.  

Kam Williams: Attorney Bernadette Beekman, asks, “What do you think you can do about improving the quality of the early care and education system in the United States, especially as it relates to young African-American children in the inner cities?”

Condoleezza Rice: I think all of us have really got to redouble our efforts, first of all, to pay attention to the K-12 crisis. The sad fact is that I can look at your zip code and tell whether you’re going to get a good education. That’s not fair. And secondly, I hope that all of us who were fortunate enough to have benefited will put our time, our resources and our efforts into making sure that kids, particularly kids without means, have a way to achieve.

Kam Williams: Reverend Thompson says, “You are a model of success to so many. Do you see yourself as a role model?”

Condoleezza Rice: I know that people look at my life and ask, “How can I achieve some of those things?” So, I suppose in that sense, yes, I’m a role model. But I try to think of myself more as a mentor, as somebody who I hope young people feel comfortable approaching or writing to. I get letters from kids from all over the country. I always try to answer them because there were people I looked up to in my youth and just wanted to be in contact with. It’s also important to realize that you find your role models in a lot of different places. I’ve never believed that your role models have to look like you. You can find them in all sort of colors, shapes and sizes.

Kam Williams: PJ Lorenz asks, “What was it like for you, as the first African-American woman to become Secretary of State?

Condoleezza Rice: I was very proud and grateful to be the first African-American woman in the position. I thought it said a lot about our country that we had back-to-back African-American Secretaries of State, Colin Powell and then me. I also thought it said a lot about President Bush that he didn’t see limits on the highest ranking diplomat in terms of color. It’s a hard job, but really the best one in government. 

Kam Williams: PJ adds, “After leaving office, reflecting back on those times, what if anything, would you have done differently, and is there anything that you feel particularly proud of, for having achieved?”

Condoleezza Rice: Well, there are many things, whenever you look back, that you would’ve done differently. We’re all human. We do our best at the time. I really wish that we had passed a comprehensive immigration bill because that would’ve really helped our country. We came close, but we couldn’t. I wish that after the war against Saddam Hussein we had been more effective at rebuilding Iraq quickly. I think had we done it from the provinces, in, rather than from Baghdad, out, we might have been more successful.

I’m very proud that President Bush took on AIDS relief. It was the largest single response by any country to a major international health crisis, and there are millions of people who are alive today in Africa and other developing countries because of that program. And I’m very proud that we stood for the proposition that no man, woman or child should ever have to live in tyranny. We believed in democracy and promoted it. 

Kam Williams: AMC exec Keith Kremer says, “I’m curious to see what your report card is for President Obama since he’s occupied the Oval Office.” 

Condoleezza Rice: Oh, I don’t think it would be fair to grade him because I believe our Presidents work hard and it’s the loneliest job in the world. I may not agree with everything, but our President, just like President Bush did, is trying to do his best under difficult circumstances.

Kam Williams: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would? 

Condoleezza Rice: Oh, I think I’ve been asked just about everything. [LOL]

Kam Williams: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?

Condoleezza Rice: Sure. I’m not personally fearful, but I look out, and there are a number of things that concern me, and I’m hopeful that we can overcome them.

Kam Williams: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

Condoleezza Rice: Very, I’m happy and content in my life, and I chalk that up to wonderful parents and a wonderful God.

Kam Williams: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?

Condoleezza Rice: [Laughs] I laugh almost every day. I have a good sense of humor, so I’m always finding something funny.

Kam Williams: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read? 

Condoleezza Rice: I just finished the biography of Benjamin Franklin by my friend, Walter Issacson.

Kam Williams: The music maven Heather Covington question: What are you listening to on your iPod? 

Condoleezza Rice: I was listening to some Motown while exercising.

Kam Williams: What is your favorite dish to cook?

Condoleezza Rice: Fried chicken, and by the way I’m good at it, too. I make really good fried chicken. [Giggles]

Kam Williams: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?

Condoleezza Rice: I have several, but I like to wear Akris, Oscar De La Renta and Giorgio Armani.

Kam Williams: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

Condoleezza Rice: It would be that no child would ever feel that the American Dream is denied them.

Kam Williams: The Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero list?

Condoleezza Rice: My parents.

Kam Williams:When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Condoleezza Rice: A very fortunate and blessed person who still has a lot of living to do.

Kam Williams: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

Condoleezza Rice: Rebelling when my parents tried to send me to first grade when I was 3.

Kam Williams: The Boris Kodjoe question: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?

Condoleezza Rice: That I’ve found my place in life, that I’m passionate about it, that my talents and my passion have merged, and that I’m trying to do the best that I can.

Kam Williams: Well on that note, let me say congratulations on finding your place, and the best of luck with the book and all your other endeavors. 

Condoleezza Rice: Thanks so much, Kam.

*   *   *   *   *

Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me

By Condoleeza Rice

In this captivating memoir for young people, looking back with candor and affection, Condoleezza Rice evokes in rich detail her remarkable childhood. Her life began in the comparatively placid 1950s in Birmingham, Alabama, where black people lived in a segregated parallel universe to their white neighbors. She grew up during the violent and shocking 1960s, when bloodshed became a part of daily life in the South. Rice’s portrait of her parents, John and Angelena, highlights their ambitions and frustrations and shows how much they sacrificed to give their beloved only child the best chance for success. Rice also discusses the challenges of being a precocious child who was passionate about music, ice skating, history, and current affairs. Her memoir reveals with vivid clarity how her early experiences sowed the seeds of her political beliefs and helped her become a vibrant, successful woman.—

Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me is a fascinating and inspirational story for young people. How do you raise someone to not only succeed against daunting odds, but to do so with grace and poise? How do you raise a person of character, someone who combines authority and confidence with a winsome personal humility? Condoleezza Rice has penned a candid, revealing look at the origins of her personal journey. Here is a woman of great accomplishment who is also relaxed and open about her frailties, her struggles, and her doubts. The story itself is remarkable, yet what shines in these pages is the author’s ease and capacity in telling it. This is a well-crafted work, written by someone who clearly loves to read.One need not be Republican, or female, or a Stanford alum in order to value this impressive new book. One need only be a citizen of the world in this 21st century—a world illuminated by policies and strategies shaped in part by this remarkable Secretary of State (among her other high-ranking offices). An inspiring story, beautifully told!—Dr. David Frisbie, The Center for Marriage & Family Studies, Del Mar, California

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Condoleezza Rice was the sixty-sixth U.S. secretary of state and the first black woman to hold that office. She was also the first woman to serve as national security advisor. She has served as provost of Stanford University and was the Soviet and East European Affairs advisor to the President of the United States during the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

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Rice hits U.S. ‘birth defect’— Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that the United States still has trouble dealing with race because of a national “birth defect” that denied black Americans the opportunities given to whites at the country’s very founding. “Black Americans were a founding population,” she said. “Africans and Europeans came here and founded this country together — Europeans by choice and Africans in chains. That’s not a very pretty reality of our founding.” As a result, Miss Rice told editors and reporters at The Washington Times, “descendants of slaves did not get much of a head start, and I think you continue to see some of the effects of that.” “That particular birth defect makes it hard for us to confront it, hard for us to talk about it, and hard for us to realize that it has continuing relevance for who we are today,” she said. Race has become an issue in this year’s presidential campaign, which prompted a much-discussed speech last week by Sen. Barack Obama, one of the two remaining contenders for the Democratic nomination. Miss Rice declined to comment on the campaign, saying only that it was “important” that Mr. Obama “gave it for a whole host of reasons.”

But she spoke forcefully on the subject, citing personal and family experience to illustrate “a paradox and contradiction in this country,” which “we still haven’t resolved.” On the one hand, she said, race in the U.S. “continues to have effects” on public discussions and “the deepest thoughts that people hold.” On the other, “enormous progress” has been made, which allowed her to become the nation’s chief diplomat. “America doesn’t have an easy time dealing with race,” Miss Rice said, adding that members of her family have “endured terrible humiliations.” “What I would like understood as a black American is that black Americans loved and had faith in this country even when this country didn’t love and have faith in them — and that’s our legacy,” she said.  WashingtonTimes

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#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what’s in your heart than what’s in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America’s shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.”

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 13 October 2010




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