Artist: Norman Guy
Octavia Butler was the first African American woman to professionally publish literary science fiction. She used the genre’s unlimited vistas as a vehicle to explore the complexities of the human experience. With her exceptional imagination and unique perspective, she explored “race,” gender, otherness, religion, relationships, hierarchical behavior, slavery, hybrid beings, extrasolar aliens, vampires, what it means to be human, and whether we can even survive as a species.
Black history month day 25: American political scientist and diplomat Condoleezza Rice.
Condoleezza Rice was born in Birmingham Alabama on November 14, 1954. Her father was a guidance counselor and a minister and her mother was a music teacher. Her name derives from the music-related term con dolcezza meaning “with sweetness”.
Rice had an art-filled childhood. She began to learn French, music, figure skating, and ballet at the age of three. Her initial dream was to become a concert pianist. While she did not become a professional, she still plays with a chamber music group and once accompanied cellist Yo-Yo Ma in playing Johannes Brahms’ Violin Sonata in D Minor at Constitution Hall in April 2002 for the National Medal of Arts Awards.
Rice grew up in the segregated South, and her parents raised her with best education and resources possible so that she could stand against the discrimination of their culture. She grew up needing to be “twice as good” as nonminorities to gain the same respect. One of her friends and schoolmates was one of the girls killed in one of the infamous church bombings in Birmingham. Rice said later of that event: “ I remember the bombing of that Sunday School at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963. I did not see it happen, but I heard it happen, and I felt it happen, just a few blocks away at my father’s church. It is a sound that I will never forget, that will forever reverberate in my ears. That bomb took the lives of four young girls, including my friend and playmate, Denise McNair. The crime was calculated to suck the hope out of young lives, bury their aspirations. But those fears were not propelled forward, those terrorists failed.”
While at the University of Denver, Rice changed her major from music to political science and graduated with honors. She then earned her Masters in political science from the University of Notre Dame.
Rice became the first African-American female to serve as Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush. She was only the second African-American Secretary of State after Colin Powell, and only the second female after Madeline Albright. She currently serves as a faculty member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a director of its Global Center for Business and the Economy.