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Antecedents - Condoleezza Rice

The Rice family comes from slaves of the old South. Because of this the family history of Condoleezza Rice can only be traced three or four generations back.

Her paternal great-grandfather was Wesley Rice. He had been born a slave and later had become a poor tenant farmer. He was a Methodist, raising his children as such. One of his children, John Wesley, decided that the way to advance in the world was to follow the example and advice of other up and coming black men such as George Washington Carver, and get an education. In 1918 he went to the Stillman Institute in Alabama. He soon ran out of money. The Presbyterian Church offered him a scholarship if he would train to become a Presbyterian preacher. It is said that he proclaimed that he just happened to be thinking of doing that!

In 1922 The Reverend Rice married Theresa Hardnett who was half Creole and from Louisiana, which means that she was probably of mixed race. John Wesley Rice then began to travel throughout the South, helping to establish schools and churches. They had only one son, John Wesley Rice Jr. (Condoleezza's father), who was born in 1923 in Baton Rouge. He grew up in the city and went to high school there. Following in his father's footsteps John Wesley Jr. went to Stillman in 1942 to receive and education. He continued his education at Johnson C. Smith College in Charlotte, NC. Like his father, he became a Presbyterian minister. (He got his divinity degree in 1949.)

In 1951 he moved to Titusville, near Birmingham, Alabama. This was a church his father had started. He became the director of education there. While also coaching football at Fairfield Industrial High School he met and married Anglena Ray. She was a teacher of music, math, and science.

Angelena Ray was the daughter of Albert Robinson Ray III. He had worked in several jobs including builder, miner, and blacksmith. He had been born somewhere between 1893 and 1895. He ran away from home at 13. He was found by a white businessman who provided for him until he reached his majority. Angelena's mother was Mattie Lula Porram (Ray), a house-wife who taught piano. The father, Albert Ray, worked hard, basically doing three jobs simultaneously. He worked as a coal miner in the day, he worked in his own blacksmith shop in the evenings and built houses on the weekend. He instilled in his children a love of hard work and the value of education.

Next Page: Childhood


Note: Thanks to Gloria Christine of HistoryWriter.net for the dates of birth for Albert Ray and Angeline. Information derived from Ancestry.com.

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