Professor and diplomat Condoleezza Rice (1954–) served as U.S. secretary of state from 2005 to 2009, during President George W. Bush's second term. From 2001 to 2005 she was Bush's national security advisor, helping to oversee the U.S. response to the September 11 terrorist attacks and the beginning of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. Rice, who grew up in a black middle-class family in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, was the first African-American woman to hold either of her top positions. Following Bush's second term, Rice returned to Stanford University, where she had served as provost before joining the Bush administration.
More to Explore
On September 11, 2001, hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, killing nearly 3,000 people.
The 9/11 Commission was charged investigating the circumstances surrounding the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
America's 43rd president, George W. Bush established the Department of Homeland Security after the 9/11 attacks.
(born April 5, 1937, New York, New York, U.S.) U.S. general and statesman. He was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–93) and secretary of state (2001–05), the first African American to hold either position.
Did You Know?
Although she gave up her dream of the concert stage to pursue political science, U.S. professor and diplomat Condoleezza Rice remains an avid pianist. While secretary of state, she rehearsed with a chamber music quintet in her Watergate apartment.
Condoleezza Rice: Early Years and Education
Condoleeza Rice was an American educator and politician, who served as national security adviser (2001–05) and secretary of state (2005–09) to Pres. George W. Bush.
During the 1950s, the Birmingham suburb of Titusville was a middle-class enclave populated by African-American doctors, teachers and other professionals. John and Angelina Rice were both educators: John was a high school coach and counselor as well as pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian Church; Angelina taught high school music and science and was an accomplished pianist. Condoleezza, their only child, was born November 14, 1954. Her name was inspired by the Italian musical instruction "con dolcezza," meaning "with sweetness."
From an early age Rice proved gifted both academically and musically, skipping several grades and excelling as a pianist. Her stable family insulated her somewhat from the turbulent times, though she was aware of the civil rights struggles. A playmate of Rice's was one of the four schoolgirls killed in the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham Baptist church.
In 1968 Rice's family moved to Colorado, where her father had gotten a job at the University of Denver. Rice graduated at 15 from a Catholic high school and entered her father's university as a music major, preparing for a career as a concert pianist.
A year later, though, after attending a prestigious music festival in Aspen, Rice decided that she lacked the talent to succeed as a top-level pianist. She chose political science as a major after taking a course on international politics taught by Josef Korbel, a Czech émigré and expert on Soviet studies (and the father of Madeleine Albright, who would become the first woman U.S. secretary of state).
Rice graduated in 1974 and spent a year getting a master's degree at Notre Dame before returning to the University of Denver to pursue a Ph.D. in Korbel’s department, focusing on Soviet diplomacy and politics.
Condoleezza Rice at Stanford
Soon after graduation, Rice was hired as an assistant professor of political science at Stanford University, where she taught and published books on the Czech army and the emerging Gorbachev era. In 1989 she began two years' leave, working at the White House as a policy adviser to George H.W. Bush during the fall of the Iron Curtain and the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Returning to Stanford, Rice served on both academic and corporate boards. In 1993 she was promoted to full professor and appointed as Stanford's provost, the university's number-two position. She was Stanford's youngest provost, and the first woman and the first African-American to hold the position.
Condoleezza Rice and the War on Terror
In 2001 Rice was appointed national security adviser for the incoming President George W. Bush. Along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, Rice played a key role in shaping Bush's response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, which included the invasion of Afghanistan later that year. Prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Rice helped argue the administration's case that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
For his second term, Bush nominated Rice to be secretary of state. Because of her role in the administration’s Iraq policy, her confirmation hearings were unusually divisive, with more votes cast against her than had been for any secretary of state since 1825.
As secretary of state, Rice pursued a philosophy of "transformational diplomacy," arguing that U.S. interests were better served by supporting democratic movements. Her approach faltered somewhat after Hamas, declared a terrorist group by the United States, overwhelmingly won a fair election in the Gaza Strip.
Condoleezza Rice: Return to Private Life
Following her term as secretary of state, Rice returned to Stanford's Hoover Institution and was appointed to its business school faculty. She has published memoirs about her childhood and the Bush years and remains a popular figure in Republican circles.
Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!
This Day in History
After nearly 14 hours of debate, the House of Representatives approves two articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, charging him with lying…
Keep up with the latest History shows, online features, special offers and more.Sign up