On this day in 2005, President George W. Bush appoints Condoleezza Rice to the post of secretary of state, making her the highest ranking African-American woman ever to serve in a presidential cabinet.
A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Rice’s credentials included advanced degrees in political science and international relations from prestigious schools, followed by a post as Stanford University provost. At Stanford, she honed her reputation as an expert in Soviet affairs, catching the attention of the Reagan administration. In 1986, at Reagan’s behest, Dr. Rice served on the Council on Foreign Relations, and then secured an appointment as special assistant to the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1991. The first President Bush elevated Dr. Rice to director of Soviet and East European affairs in the National Security Council. She also served as the senior President Bush’s special assistant for national security affairs. President George W. Bush renewed her advisory role in the White House when he appointed her national security advisor in his first term.
At Rice’s swearing-in ceremony as secretary of state in 2005, an effusive Bush said, over the past four years, America has benefited from the wise counsel of Dr. Condoleezza Rice and our family has been enriched by our friendship with this remarkable person. We love her–I don’t know if you’re supposed to say that about the secretary of state. At the ceremony, both President Bush and Dr. Rice praised the efforts of her predecessor Colin Powell, who had been the first African-American to serve as secretary of state.