I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that if you are the parents of little girls, it can be very hard to find role models for your girls to look up to. VERY hard. (I must insert here that I am referring here to famous, well-known women. Those about whom books, movies, articles, etc. are readily available.)There are only a handful of strong women in places of significant influence who have conservative moral values and promote godly living. Occasionally, I come across one of these women, and I long to know more about the parents who raised them. What was it that their parents did to produce beautiful, vibrant, strong daughters with leadership capabilities? Are there attitudes, beliefs, expectations that I can duplicate in my own parenting that will give my own daughters a firm foundation to succeed? Don’t get me wrong, I am not expecting my children to be Secretary of State unless they want to. I will support them in whatever career path they choose, even if the path they choose doesn’t meet the world’s criteria for a “career” ( like my own). However, I want them to have the skills, work ethic, education, moral character to be able to succeed in whatever they want to do.
All that to say that I was THRILLED when I saw that in 2010 Condoleezza Rice wrote a book about her upbringing. Would you believe it if I told you I’d actually had the thought “I wish Condoleezza Rice would write a book about how she was raised!”? I have a few other people I’d like to write the same book, but I’ll take what I can get.
So Extraordinary, Ordinary People is just what I’d hoped it would be. In it, Rice tells about her grandparents and parents and how they raised her. In her early years, she lived in Birmingham’s Titusville community. She tells about her life as a young black girl being raised in Birmingham during the civil rights movement. You know what I was surprised about? The fact that she was shielded from so much of the racism so prevalent in Birmingham at the time. Don’t get me wrong, her family definitely faced blatant racism. But I had no idea that the black community was able to pull together so well to shield and insulate their families from so much of it. What a testimony to the power of COMMUNITY!
This is the kind of book that is hard to summarize because every part is important. To leave out facts in an effort to be brief is to leave out pertinent details. I will say that Condi’s parents were willing to make some hard choices, financially and otherwise, to see that their child had the best education available. Though their lives revolved around her, they were both heavily involved in their community in a way that is absolutely admirable. I think their involvement in social change gave her the idea that she could create the change she wanted to see as well. They were able to simultaneously insulate their daughter from the evil in the world AND expose her to many, many people and situations that would expand her world beyond her neighborhood. I think that John and Angelena Rice were brilliant in many ways, and so it is no coincidence that their daughter is also.
Extraordinary, Ordinary People is a book that I will probably read more than once and use almost as a reference. I do not agree with everything, but I certainly cannot dispute the integrity and excellence with which John and Angelena Rice raised their daughter.