Last week, while in Utah, I had the great fortune to be in Provo at the same time Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to speak at a BYU Forum. I joined in with 18,000 BYU students making their way to the Marriott Center on a Thursday morning. It was a good decision.
I very much enjoyed her remarks. She is so well spoken and conveyed her ideas and thoughts in a most engaging way.
As she shared the story of her family, the importance of education in her family, and the difference the Civil Rights Laws of the early 1960's made in her possibilities; I was grateful for the opportunity I was having to hear it in her own words.
After staying for the Q & A portion (I was so impressed with the thoughtful questions posed by students as well as Condoleezza's answers), I made my way across campus to the BYU Bookstore. While taking the ramp way I had to pause, remove my gloves, and take this picture. I am seldom in Utah during Winter. The snow covered mountains were dazzling.
I love the bookstore and I planned to spend a couple of hours there before taking the bus back to the townhouse. My goal this day was to spend time in the children's book section which has been moved downstairs. The elementary librarian in me wanted to browse the shelves of newly published books and to see if I could locate any of the ALA book award winners which had just been announced for 2010.
Instead I found this memoir for young readers written by Condoleezza Rice and published last Fall. Now I could purchase the rest of the story, and what a story it is. Condoleezza was raised in Birmingham, Alabama. She was born in 1954 two years to the day after my own birth. Reading her memoir brought forth memories of my own childhood and the turbulent times that were the '60's.' The difference being that as I watched the civil rights protests on television, Condoleezza's father was sitting with a shot gun on his lap on his front porch to protect their home from the bombing of the "night riders."
Condoleezza's father was a minister of a Presbyterian church called Westminister. When the bomb went off in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that Sunday September morning in 1963, the Rice family felt it at their own church two miles away. Four girls died in the bombing and one, Denise McNair, was a playmate of Condoleezza's. Condoleezza grew up in a segregated world where her parents created a "parallel universe" whereby their daughter could enjoy as many advantages as possible in their part of Birmingham.
So on this day of honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King, I reflect upon the life story of this person who most likely became Secretary of State because of Civil Rights Laws passed in 1964 which were championed by the minister of another Baptist congregation who challenged the inequalities of a nation where "all men are created equal."
For more about Condoleezza Rice's remarks on January 13, 2010 go here.