Today’s Illustration: “With Sweetness”

For Mother’s Day

Condoleezza Rice

  • Born November 14, 1954
  • Born in Birmingham, Alabama
  • Her name translates to “con dolcezza” or “– with sweetness” in Italian [1]”By all accounts, my parents approached the time of my birth with great anticipation. My father was certain that I’d be a boy and had worked out a deal with my mother: if the baby was a girl, she would name her, but a boy would be named John.”

    Mother started thinking about names for her daughter. She wanted a name that would be unique and musical. Looking to Italian musical terms for inspiration, she at first set- tied on Andantino. But realizing that it translated as “moving slowly,” she decided that she didn’t like the impli¬ cations of that name. Allegro was worse because it translated as “fast,” and no mother in 1954 wanted her daughter to be thought of as “fast.” Finally she found the musical terms con dolce and con dolcezza, meaning “with sweetness.” Deciding that an English speaker would never recognize the hard c, saying “dolci” instead of “dolche,” my mother doctored the term. She settled on Condoleezza.[2]

    “My mother thought she felt labor pains on Friday night, November 12, and was rushed to the doctor. Dr. Plump, the black pediatrician who delivered most of the black babies in town, explained that it was probably just anxiety. He decided nonetheless to put Mother in the hospital, where she could rest comfortably. He was wrong. When my father came out of the pulpit at noon on November 14, his mother was waiting for him in the church office.

    Johnny, it’s a girl!”

    Daddy was floored. “A girl?” he asked. “How could it be a girl?”He rushed to the hospital to see the new baby. Daddy told me that the first time he saw me in the nursery, the other babies were just lying still, but I was trying to raise myself up. Now, I think it’s doubtful that an hours-old baby was strong enough to do this. But my father insisted this story was true. In any case, he said that his heart melted at the sight of his baby girl. From that day on he was a “feminist”—there was nothing that his little girl couldn’t do, including learning to love football.

  • A Competitive Ice Skater
  • Skipped the first and seventh grades and graduated from high school at age 15
  • At age 15, she performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor with the Denver Symphony Orchestra.
  • Democrat up to 1982
  • National Security Advisor – 2001 – 2005
  • First female African-American Secretary of State – 2005 – 2009
  • In 2010, Secretary Rice played the piano during a performance with the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, and the Philadelphia Orchestra for a charity event to raise money for inner-city music education.
  • In 2012, she became one of two women admitted as a member to Augusta National Golf Club for the first time.
  • 10th provost of Stanford University
  • 2013 – 2016  — College Football Playoff Selection Committee [1]

From her autobiography, “Condoleezza Rice: a memoir of my extraordinary, ordinary family and me,” — 2010

“My parents, John and Angelena Rice, were extraordinary, ordinary people. They were middle-class folks who loved God, family, and their country. They loved each other unreservedly and built a world together that wove the fibers of our life—faith, family, community, and education—into a seamless tapestry of high expectations and unconditional love. I don’t think they ever read a book on parenting. They were just good at it—not perfect, but really good. Somehow they raised their little girl in Jim Crow Birmingham, Alabama, to believe that even if she couldn’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter, she could be president of the United States.

“I was also contacted by people who didn’t know my parents but recognized in my story their own parents’ love and sacrifice. Good parents are a blessing. Mine were determined to give me a chance to live a unique and happy life. In that they succeeded, and that is why every night I begin my prayers saying, “Lord, I can never thank you enough for the parents you gave me.” [2]


“Through the spring and summer of 1970 life was once again taken up with piano, skating, and school. My first major figure-skating competition, held that August, was relatively successful—I wound up finishing third. Many years later I teased my parents about having put me in the wrong sport— I was five foot seven with the long legs of someone who was five foot ten, and that was exactly the wrong body type to get any leverage for jumping. “I should have been a tennis player,” I told them. They reminded me that it was I who’d wanted to be a figure skater.

That summer competition was the only one in which I ever placed. I was simply not a very good skater. In any case, I loved the challenge, and the sport taught me discipline and perseverance. I have often said that skating taught me more about character than the piano did. It’s really difficult to work hard, fail at the moment of truth, and have to get up and work at it the next day. But that is precisely what skating taught me to do. It may be why my parents continued to pour money into my obviously limited potential on the ice and why my father got up every morning and took me to the rink before dawn.”[3]

Other Information & Links:

1. “In October 2013, Rice was selected to be one of the thirteen inaugural members of the College Football Playoff selection committee. Her appointment caused a minor controversy in the sport. In October 2014, she revealed that she watched “14 or 15 games every week live on TV on Saturdays and recorded games on Sundays.  ” — Wikipedia

2. pg. 1 — “Condoleezza Rice : a memoir of my extraordinary, ordinary family and me,” — 2010

3. pgs. 149-150

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