Thursday, November 25, 2004


In nominating Condoleezza Rice to head the State Department, President Bush said Tuesday that her early years in segregated Alabama helped shape her world view. "As a girl in the segregated South, Dr. Rice saw the promise of America violated by racial discrimination and by the violence that comes from hate," Bush said. Rice has "an abiding belief in the value and power of liberty because she has seen freedom denied and freedom reborn," Bush said.

Rice, 50, head of the National Security Council, was raised in Birmingham by parents who believed strongly in religion and achievement through education. Her mother taught at Fairfield High School. Her father was a minister at Birmingham's Westminster Presbyterian Church who also worked as a high school football coach to augment his salary.

Rice has said memories of Birmingham's racial turmoil shaped some of her core values. During the bombings of the summer of 1963, her father and other neighborhood men guarded the streets at night to keep white vigilantes at bay. Rice said her staunch defense of gun rights comes from those days. She has argued that if the guns her father and neighbors carried had been registered, they could have been confiscated by the authorities, leaving the black community defenseless.

Rice said the violence of 1963 is "burned into my consciousness." That was the year four little girls -- about the same age as Rice at the time -- were killed in the fire-bombing of a Birmingham church.

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Want a successful protest? Arm your women: "This fall, when scores of Mazahua Indian women took up arms and marched on Mexico City, they caught the country's imagination. 'Women warriors fight for their rights,' newspapers declared in 72-point type after the Mazahuas, rifles slung over traditional satin dresses, stormed Congress. TV crews swarmed this impoverished valley for the scoop. Then last month, less than eight weeks later, the Mazahua Army of Women for the Defense of Water won millions of pesos and huge concessions from a government that had ignored their community's pleas -- reparations for damage from a dam built in 1977 -- for more [than] 25 years."

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