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Thursday
Aug302012

Clutch Magazine: Condi Rice Glosses Over Important Part When She Talks Civil Rights

Former Secretary of State Condozeela Rice addressed the Republican National Convention Wednesday night in a speech that touched on everything from her foreign policy strengths (or weakness depending on who you ask), to social issues. But one of the issues she skiddladdled right by was the Civil Rights movement. Wanting to keep things in that "feel good" mode she spoke as if that leap from segregation to her becoming secretary of state was a glorious lap Americans ran together, rather than a knock down, drag out grudge match that people are still wielding cudgels about today. Never mind the fact that it took sending the National Guard to many states just to enforce the rule of law.

Jim Crow didn't die so much as he was a suicide bomber who tried to take as many folks with him before he finally blew up Alabama, and the scaring was so deep we're still dealing with the consequences today. To paraphrase the film "Magnolia," Rice may be through with the past, but the past isn't through with us.

Here's a snippet:

This philosophy was evident in  Rice’s speech where she endorsed Romney of sorts, extolled the virtues of warmongering and gave a shout-out to ol’ Jimmy Crow and how she’d gone from not being able to eat at a Woolworth’s counter to Secretary of State. But Rice notably skipped a few steps between a legal form of oppression and overcoming. To fit in to the conservative philosophy of boot strap pulling, she had to gloss over the blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifices many had to make so she could be on that stage. Instead she encouraged a logical fallacy, that freedom and equality was something given to black people in America out of the kindness of the hearts of people who’d seen the error of their ways, and racism died in its sleep peacefully on a Sunday morning in 1968. The reality is four little girls, close to her own age at the time,  died in a church that was fire bombed in Birmingham, Alabama, for daring to be the same race as the people who wanted to eat at a Woolworth’s counter and vote.

She ignored that some in the room still romanticize a past built on the backs of oppression – of a society where things like welfare and Medicare and Social Security weren’t controversial because the only people benefiting from these entitlement programs were white. The plantation owner who my grandparents and great-grandparents worked for refused to pay into Social Security for people who historically have not legally been seen as people in the eyes of our government.

Our independence was bloody and hard-won. Many of those who gave the most never got to see this day when one of their daughters could take the national stage on their backs and gloss over everything they’d done. It’s as if to say, “All’s fair now because I got a job.”  As if it works that way, that if the individual climbs from the swamp to ascend the mountaintop, we all have the glory – even if we’re still watching her from the swamp, even if we’re all still there, still fighting, still demanding the equality we’ve long struggled for. Who cares? She made it. Damned if anyone else does.

Read the full post at Clutch Magazine Online.

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Reader Comments (10)

I read somewhere that Condi knew one of the four girls who was killed in the Birmingham Church bombing. She is notorious for minimizing the hell that was life in the Deep South in the 50s and 60s. I think it is her method of survival. Everyone has developed ways of moving through life and nobody can fault her for that.

Do I think she has a bad habit of reducing the plight of Black America to one eventful day in 1965? Yes. But I believe its more of an internal-emotional agenda not a political one. Perhaps she will one day battle her demons in her rocking chair.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

She gives a more genuine account of what it was like growing up in The South in her autobio. Her address the other night was just duck tales.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEssDot323

Rice has always been a chameleon when it comes to racial history and issues. Her comments about the civil rights movement have morphed over the past few years and tend to vary depending on the audience she's addressing. Articles and her statements predating 2005 indicate that she and her family (who were a part of the black middle class in Birmingham) were pretty dismissive of the CRM and the people participating in it. She always argued that the changes would have come about eventually without the efforts of the Birmingham movement. I think it was Fred Shuttlesworth who said she has no emotional connection to the issues he and others were fighting.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAquababy

Their were countless blacks who did not believe in the CRM and were against Dr. King and others like him 'rocking the boat.' And they had every right to. All black folk don't think the same. But I'm sure Condi's family and those who thought like her can't help but admit their anti-CRM views were wrong.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

AJ, you're not telling me anything I don't know so let me repeat my point which was that Rice's statements about the civil rights struggle vary depending if she's speaking to a conservative or more moderate audience. Furthermore, I've more or less followed Rice's statements since she started appearing on talk shows in the mid-80s so in my view there's a disconnect with the GOP and media's repeated attempts to suggest that she has a more direct connection to the movement. Until a few years ago when her national profile became bigger, she was still espousing the anti-CRM views.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAquababy

Aquababy is correct. Condoleeza Rice has described in magazine interviews her the Rice family's dismissive attitude towards integration and the Civil Rights Struggle. However,as she also described, the Rice family made sure to take full advantage of the opportunities of integration that others won for them. She's modified her wording now and then, but I tend to believe her earlier assessments of her own family's snobby attitude. Angela Davis, who joined the fight and didn't ride the backs of others, also knew the four girls who died in the church burning, but chooses not to pull them out and wave them around for credibility.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDonella

Good piece. Now I have to actually go and RESEARCH the speech. I'm a long-time Condi fan but definitely feel you on the "glossing." Heard that tone from her before. Thanks for posting!

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSheena Davis

I was a 21 year old college student on Sunday morning in 1968 when the church was bombed. I remember having gotten up early that day to study for an exam and was listening to the news on he radio announce the bombing. An aunt of Rice taught at the local elementary school (only one in my town). One of my high school and college friends and her family were family with the Rice family. So these people were well known around Birmingham and my town (a suburb of B'ham). Rice was a childhood friend of one of the girls.

Rices's father was a minister who was not involved in any way with the civil rights movement and struggles going on in Birmingham. He subsequently moved his family to a northwestern state BECAUSE he did not want to be involved.

Rice cannot speak with any authority about the civil rights movement because she and her family were NEVER involved. And there is no history of them ever being involved.

September 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommentersSammy

I reexamined this post after reading about Elizabeth Keckley's autobiography/slave narrative. In it, she glosses over slavery as if it was a necessary system that while it caused her much suffering- made her a stronger person and that in turn, proved something to whites.

I read some of Keckley's passages like "hmm.. this is all sounding like something I read about."

I understand the Snob's argument and the comments a bit better.

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

I LOVE CONDI!! I think she's a highly intelligent and exceptional individual, just because she didn't go along with what you people thought she should have done doesn't change that fact that she is a woman of remarkable talent and degree. She's an amazing ROLE MODEL for young women. We need more Condoleezas!!

December 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTmac
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