Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that the United States “was born with a birth defect.” That flaw, she asserted, was slavery.
“We forget in the United States how long it has taken us to make ‘We the People’ mean people like me,” Rice told host Jane Pauley on "CBS Sunday Morning." “And indeed, I do think that America was born with a birth defect; it was slavery.”
Rice — who served under former President George W. Bush, first as his national security adviser and later as his secretary of state — described the civil rights movement in the 1960s as the “second founding” of the United States, noting the first one “wasn’t quite complete.”
“I do think that when we were finally able to deliver the promise of the Constitution to people like me, little girls growing up in Birmingham, Ala., when finally my father was able to vote without difficulty, yes, it’s the second founding of America,” she said.
Rice has spoken about racism as America’s “birth defect” before. In 2011, she told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that even though the U.S. has “gotten to a place [where] race is not the limiting factor that it once was ... we’re never going to erase race as a factor in American life.”
"It is a birth defect with which this country was born out of slavery; we're never really going to be race blind," she said at the time.
And racism is a topic the former secretary of state, who in 2005 became the first black woman to hold that office, knows all too well. Every summer, she and her parents would travel from Alabama to Denver.
But it wasn’t a trip for summer vacation. Rather, it was a journey made out of necessity: Because of the color of their skin.
“If you were black, you couldn’t go to the University of Alabama for graduate school in 1961,” Rice explained. “And so my father, who was getting an advanced degree in student personnel administration, and my mother, who was qualifying to teach music in the schools — she was a science teacher before that — would go to Denver.”
Later in the interview, Rice was asked if she thinks it’s possible democracy could unravel in the United States.
“I don’t think it could happen here,” she told Pauley. “[T]he United States has such a DNA about not having executive power be too great.”
Rice, who urged President Donald Trump to withdraw from the campaign in October 2016 following the release of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, said her meeting with the commander in chief in March of this year was “a private affair,” as it would be with any U.S. leader.
“But I will say this,” she noted. “I respect the presidency and the person who Americans elected, and I will do everything I can to try to make sure, on behalf of all of us, he succeeds.”