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Childhood of Condoleezza Rice

Born in Birmingham Alabama on 14 November 1954, Condoleezza Rice was the first and only child of John and Angelena Rice. It was her mother who gave her the uncommon name, "Condoleezza". Angelena originally wanted to name her "Condolcezza" which mean "with sweetness" in Italian. However, she thought the pronunciation might be a problem for people seeing the name for the first time.

Condoleezza would lead a childhood relatively sheltered from the Jim Crow laws and segregation that was prevalent in Birmingham during that era. Her parents lavished her with affection, and instilled in her a sense of self-worth that sprang from great expectations - resulting from self-discipline coupled with raw ability. Because her parents were educated and had good jobs, the family lived a relatively middle-class existence.

Her father was a Presbyterian Minister who believed that the rise of Blacks in America would come about one individual at a time as each proved his worth through education and hard work. Thus, Condoleezza Rice, instilled with such values, worked hard to realize all the potential within her. Even at a young age, she was highly proficient on the piano (she began to play at the age of three) and became acutely aware of current events, politics, and historical trends. Intelligence, hard work, and determination propelled her through her childhood.

When she did play, she played pretend school with the friends she had in the neighborhood. Beginning in 1960 she spent most of her summers in Denver, Colorado. Her parents took courses at Denver University and she took skating lessons. In 1966 her father was appointed Dean of Students at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa. In 1968 John Rice took a year off from his job at Stillman to go full-time for his master's degree at DU. In Denver Condoleezza began to take skating very seriously, devoting three hours a day to the sport.

In Denver she attended a private Catholic school. She continued to learn piano and devoted much time to ice skating. Her parents even went to the extent of borrowing to spend a year's salary on a baby grand piano.

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