From Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state and New York Times bestselling author of Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom, comes a captivating memoir of her remarkable childhood.
Condoleezza Rice’s life began in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1950s, a place and time where black people lived in a segregated parallel universe away from 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 Parents and Me is a fascinating and inspirational story for young people, adapted from Condoleeza Rice’s adult sensation Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family. Includes a 16-page photo insert.
Praise for Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family:
“An origins story . . . memoir is teeming with fascinating detail.” —The New York Times
“A thrilling, inspiring life of achievement.” —Publishers Weekly
“Surprisingly engrossing . . .” —Daily Beast
“Vivid and heartfelt writing . . . Highly recommended.”—Library Journal
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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.
From the Hardcover edition.
By all accounts, my parents approached the time of my birth with great anticipation. My father was certain that I'd be a boy and had worked out a deal with my mother: if the baby was a girl, she would name her, but a boy would be named John.
Mother started thinking about names for her daughter. She wanted a name that would be unique and musical. Looking to Italian musical terms for inspiration, she at first settled on Andantino. But realizing that it translated as "moving slowly," she decided that she didn't like the implications of that name. Allegro was worse because it translated as "fast," and no mother in 1954 wanted her daughter to be thought of as "fast." Finally she found the musical terms con dolce and con dolcezza, meaning "with sweetness." Deciding that an English speaker would never recognize the hard c, saying "dolci" instead of "dolche," my mother doctored the term. She settled on Condoleezza.
Meanwhile, my father prepared for John's birth. He bought a football and several other pieces of sports equipment. John was going to be an all-American running back or perhaps a linebacker.
My mother thought she felt labor pains on Friday night, November 12, and was rushed to the doctor. Dr. Plump, the black pediatrician who delivered most of the black babies in town, explained that it was probably just anxiety. He decided nonetheless to put Mother in the hospital, where she could rest comfortably.
The public hospitals were completely segregated in Birmingham, with the Negro wards--no private rooms were available--in the basement. There wasn't much effort to separate maternity cases from patients with any other kind of illness, and by all accounts the accommodations were pretty grim. As a result, mothers who could get in preferred to birth their babies at Holy Family, the Catholic hospital that segregated white and Negro patients but at least had something of a maternity floor and private rooms. Mother checked into Holy Family that night.
Nothing happened on Saturday or early Sunday morning. Dr. Plump told my father to go ahead and deliver his sermon at the eleven o'clock church service. "This baby isn't going to be born for quite a while," he said.
He was wrong. When my father came out of the pulpit at noon on November 14, his mother was waiting for him in the church office.
"Johnny, it's a girl!"
Daddy was floored. "A girl?" he asked. "How could it be a girl?"
He rushed to the hospital to see the new baby. Daddy told me that the first time he saw me in the nursery, the other babies were just lying still, but I was trying to raise myself up. Now, I think it's doubtful that an hours-old baby was strong enough to do this. But my father insisted this story was true. In any case, he said that his heart melted at the sight of his baby girl. From that day on he was a "feminist"--there was nothing that his little girl couldn't do, including learning to love football.
From the Hardcover edition.
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