MAKERS Profile

Condoleezza Rice

Former Secretary of State

In this video

Condoleezza Rice on her path from the Jim Crow South of her youth to becoming the highest diplomat in the land.
Raised in Birmingham, Alabama Rice was on her way to becoming a concert pianist before turning to international relations and developing a career as a respected Soviet specialist.  In late 1989, President George H.W. Bush introduced Rice, then a National Security Council staffer, to Mikhail Gorbachev saying, “This is Condoleezza Rice.  She tells me everything I know about the Soviet Union.” Rice had just turned 35 years old and had by that time sat on the faculty of Stanford’s political science department for eight years. Of course, there was more to come. After returning to Stanford as Provost and accomplishing the monumental feat of restoring the University’s budget to health, she joined the campaign of George W. Bush in 2000.   Speaking before the GOP convention that year, she nodded to the odyssey of her life and career by noting that in the Jim Crow South of her youth, “Dixiecrats” had refused to register her father to vote.  After the election, President Bush appointed her National Security Advisor, the first woman to hold the position, and later, Secretary of State, making her the first African American woman to serve in the post.  Rice is back to teaching at her beloved Stanford while running an international consulting business.

More From Condoleezza

Not Planning Your Path
Rice shares her advice on finding your path in life.

“Playing Brahms with Yo-Yo Ma”
The moment Rice knew she made the right career decision.

Reflections on Post-9/11 Diplomacy
Rice reflects on the possible shortcomings of the Bush administration's post-9/11 foreign policy, and the judgement of history.

“Nobody needs to tell me how to be black”
Rice responds to the notion of not being "black enough."

“The most painful criticism”
What criticisms of the Bush administration are easiest for Rice to take and what stings the most?

September 11th
Rice describes first learning about the 9/11 attacks and its reverberations.

My Father Was a Feminist
One of Rice's biggest feminist role models was her father.

Fitting in with the Boys in the Pentagon
Rice describes how she won over her male colleagues at the Pentagon

Racist Santa Claus
Rice recounts her father's confrontation with a racist mall Santa.

A Shield Against Racism
How Birmingham's black community was able to fortify its children against racism during Rice's youth.