Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rice and Straw at the Alabama-Tennessee Game


The death yesterday of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks only highlights the distance African Americans have traveled since the 1950s and 1960s, when it was generous to even call them second-class citizens in the South and much of the rest of America.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been smart to link the relatively rapid changes in the American South these past two generations with the possibility of positive change around the world. Rice grew up in segregated Alabama and was even a playmate of one of four girls killed in an infamous Birmingham church bombing, and she has used a domestic trip with British foreign secretary Jack Straw to draw a surprising amount of attention to this aspect of her childhood; on October 22, Rice even appeared at a memorial service for the bombing victims in Birmingham.

Rice seems to finally be using her personal story on the job as America's first diplomat. It's almost unnecessary for the Secretary to connect African Americans' struggles for civil rights with those of people overseas who doubt the possibility of change in their own lifetimes. They will get the message that the U.S. has come a long way—Rice and Straw were loudly cheered at last Saturday's Alabama-Tennessee football game!—but continually struggles to go further.

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