There are a myriad of reasons why Condoleezza Rice was a bad choice to speak at the University of Minnesota on Keeping Faith with a Legacy of Justice: the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The first is that it is downright hypocritical.
Rice is not an expert on Civil Rights. In fact, her life and her career are all a reflection of her disdain for civil rights. Neither Rice nor her family believed in the efficacy of the struggle for the rights of Black people to be free of Jim Crow racism in the United States. And her record as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State from 2001-2008 in the Bush Administration indicates that she is not qualified to talk about “rights” human or civil.
She spent her entire career in Washington dedicated to separating so-called enemies of the U.S. from their civil and human rights. According to Rice, the Civil Rights Movement wasn’t necessary; legal segregation (Jim Crow) would have worked itself out and ended on its own, or collapsed under its own weight.
In a Washington Post interview years ago she said, “I felt that segregation had become not just a real moral problem, but it had become a real pain in the neck for some [White] people. People had begun to make their own little accommodations.”
Really, Dr. Rice? White southerners out of the kindness of their hearts were going to give up their political, economic, and social advantage that Jim Crow segregation had granted them?
Clearly Rice, who grew up in Birmingham in the middle of the Civil Rights struggle, has a revisionist idea of those times.
She has bragged that her family didn’t march because her father didn’t think he could turn the other cheek. But that’s a poor excuse because all of the marches didn’t call for direct confrontation with authority. They could have gotten involved in the Movement, but they chose to sit it out.
I think the truth is her dad and her family thought they were above marching, like many other Black middle-class folks who sat out the movement but didn’t hesitate to walk through the doors opened by people they looked down on.
The Rices were from the Black bourgeoisie and on some level benefitted from segregated society; they were somebody in their apartheid circles. They had acquired education and a few dollars, and had a certain measure of comfort with White Supremacy, unlike their more working-class brethren, they were shielded somewhat from the economic blows of Jim Crow segregation.
Yet, ironically, while the Rice family sat out the protests, their daughter directly benefitted from them. She has been quoted saying “My family is third-generation college-educated. I should’ve gotten to where I am.” Clearly this fits her “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” philosophy that has made her the darling among the enemies of Black progress, namely conservatism.
The truth is, she is not a beacon of the Civil Rights Movement but rather an embarrassment. She became an apologist and supporter of an unjust war, directly becoming responsible for the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the war on Iraq. She was also an apologist for torture, becoming one of the first White House officials to go on record supporting any form of torture. Don’t take my word for it, look it up, it’s in the record.
Pray tell what does this woman have to add to a discussion about rights? If she had any decency she would have turned down the invitation!
Mel Reeves welcomes reader response to firstname.lastname@example.org.