The first black woman to serve as secretary of state is Condoleezza Rice
An uplifting tale of triumph over hardship, Condoleezza Rice rose from poverty and segregation in the South to become the highest-ranking American diplomat. Her life exemplifies the power of determination, perseverance, and education in achieving one's goals and achieving one's dreams. For future generations of leaders, especially women and people of color, Rice's example has paved the route to the highest offices in American politics.
Foreword: Condoleezza Rice made history as the first African-American woman to hold the position of U.S. Secretary of State. The fact that she was able to rise from the segregated conditions of 1950s Alabama to the position of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is a powerful testimonial to her fortitude, intelligence, and leadership.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1954, Rice witnessed the evils of the Jim Crow South firsthand. Her parents, however, instilled in her a firm faith in the transformative potential of a good education. Rice started college at age 15 and went on to get a doctorate in political science from the University of Denver.
Rice's scholarly career, especially her knowledge of Soviet and East European affairs, prepared the door for her to enter politics. She was Director and then Senior Director of Soviet and East European Affairs at the National Security Council and Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.
Her biggest break came when George W. Bush appointed her to replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State in 2005. Rice, in her role as U.S. top diplomat, oversaw complex international situations, including the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran, and the ongoing strife in the Middle East.
Rice made history as the first Black woman to serve as Secretary of State, but her legacy and influence go far beyond that accomplishment. The term "transformational diplomacy" came to characterize her unwavering commitment to advocating for democratic values on a global scale. During some of the most turbulent years in American foreign policy in the early 21st century, she was a key figure.