Mary Bush, Freeman Hrabowski, and Condoleezza Rice grew up and were classmates together in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, in the late 1950s and early ’60s. We reunited them for a conversation in Birmingham’s Westminster Presbyterian Church, where Rice’s father was pastor during that period. The three lifelong friends recount what life was like for Blacks in Jim Crow Alabama and the deep bonds that formed in the Black community at the time in order to support one another and to give the children a good education. They also recall the events they saw—and in some cases participated in—during the spring, summer, and fall of 1963, when Birmingham was racked with racial violence, witnessed marches and protests led by Dr. Martin Luther King, and was shocked by the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. The latter event resulted in the deaths of four little girls, whom all three knew. The show concludes with a visit to a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. erected in Kelly Ingram Park—where in 1963 Birmingham’s commissioner for public safety Bull Connor ordered that fire hoses and attack dogs be used on protestors. There, Condoleezza Rice discusses Dr. King’s legacy and his impact on her life.

To view the full transcript of this episode, read below:

Peter Robinson: In Birmingham, Alabama, 60 years ago, black students, some still in elementary school, marched for an end to segregation. They were met with police dogs, fire hoses, and handcuffs. Today, three people who can remember those events because they themselves were students right here in Birmingham. Businesswoman, Mary Bush, University President, Freeman Hrabowski, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. On Uncommon Knowledge now.

- [George Corley Wallace] And so my friends, they did not die in vain. God still has a way of ringing good out of evil, and history has proven over and over again that unmerited suffering is redemptive. ♪ Freedom ♪ ♪ Freedom ♪ ♪ Freedom, freedom ♪

Peter Robinson: Welcome to Uncommon Knowledge. I'm Peter Robinson. Mary Bush grew up in segregated Birmingham, then went on to a career in finance and business that saw her earn an MBA from the University of Chicago, work at Citibank in Chase Manhattan, serve in the Treasury Department during the Reagan administration, sit on the boards of companies, including Marriott and Texaco, and found Bush International, the consulting firm, which she now serves as President. Freeman Hrabowski III grew up right across the street from Mary Bush. He went on to a career in academia earning a doctorate in higher education, administration, and statistics from the University of Illinois. Beginning in 1992, Dr. Hrabowski served as President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, one of the 12 universities in the University of Maryland system. During his tenure, UMBC became the number one producer in the nation of African Americans who went on to complete STEM PhDs. Dr. Hrabowski stepped down as president of UMBC just last year. Condoleezza Rice grew up here in Birmingham, in the same neighborhood as Mary Bush and Freeman Hrabowski. She went on to earn a doctorate in international relations from the University of Denver. She then went on to a career at Stanford University that saw her rise to Provost and that she interrupted to serve during the administration of George W. Bush as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. Secretary Rice now serves as Director of the Hoover Institution, the Public Policy Center at Stanford. We're gathered in Birmingham today in the Westminster Presbyterian Church, where the pastor in the 1960s was the Reverend John Wesley Rice Jr., Condie's father. I've only been here a day and a half, but it seems to fall to me to welcome the three of you back to your hometown in Birmingham. The spring of 1963, April 3rd, a local civil rights organization, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, led by Birmingham's own Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth is joined by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Southern Christian Leadership Conference in conducting sit-ins at downtown lunch counters. April 6th, Reverend Shuttlesworth leads a march on City Hall. More than 30 protesters are arrested. April 11, Dr. King is served with an injunction against boycotting, trespassing, or encouraging such acts. April 12th, Dr. King, Reverend Shuttlesworth, and others lead a march protesting the injunction. They're arrested. April 14th, Easter Sunday, a thousand protestors attempt to march on City Hall, police block their way arresting more than 30. April 19, the New York Post publishes excerpts of a document that Dr. King, using fragments of newspapers, has composed in what would soon become known as the Letter from Birmingham Jail. Dr. King writes, quote, "I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Anyone who lives in the United States can never be considered an outsider." May 2nd, young blacks begin leaving school to march. They walk in groups of 10 to 50 across Kelly Ingram Park, the City Square, intending to protest at City Hall just a few blocks away. They never reach City Hall. The Birmingham Commissioner of Public Safety, Bull Connor, orders his men to assault the students with fire hoses and police dogs. Many of the young people are injured. More than a thousand are arrested. May 10th, a settlement is reached under the terms of the Birmingham Truce, Dr. King, Reverend Shuttlesworth and other civil rights leaders agree to end the protests, Birmingham business leaders promise in turn that within 90 days they will desegregate businesses and public facilities. For the most part, they keep their word and official segregation in Birmingham, unofficial segregation would continue for a long time, but official segregation in Birmingham comes, for the most part, to an end. That's not by any means the means of the story. And we'll continue to what happened afterwards. But for now, let me ask you about those events. What is now referred to often as the Children's Crusade. You're the last generation who experienced the Old South and the Civil Rights Movement that rose against it. Mary Bush, you were only in your teens, but if I understand this correctly, you heard Dr. King speak.

Mary Bush: I did.

Peter Robinson: Tell us about what he was like, what it meant to this town when he came here.

Mary Bush: The time that I heard Dr. King speak was at my church, Sixth Avenue Baptist Church.

- [Martin Luther King] That the federal government not put a cent in this city unless it decides to face the realities of desegregation.

Mary Bush: The church was absolutely packed. My parents and I went, and it was really a momentous event because here was Martin Luther King who had become, well-known for his civil rights activities.

Peter Robinson: He was a famous figure coming to town.

Mary Bush: He was a famous figure coming to town. So it made a huge impression on me. One, to hear him speak and to talk about freedom. When the children's marches were organized, I very much wanted to participate. But I had a father who when he said something, he meant it. He said, no, you cannot go. However, I will tell you one other part of the story. As you probably know, my friend, Freeman Hrabowski, did participate. It's a very interesting story as to how he got to do it, which maybe he'll tell you. But he was arrested, and I came home from somewhere one day, and my father is in our front yard, and there are tears strolling down his face. And I said, Daddy, what's wrong? And he said, Freeman has been arrested. Well, you see, Freeman was like his child too.

Peter Robinson: Freeman lived across the street.

Mary Bush: He lived right across the street from me. So my father was in much distress because he didn't know what was going to happen to Freeman because this was a city that reacted to people trying to get their freedom in very violent ways.

Peter Robinson: So Freeman, Mary's father said, no, you're not marching.

Freeman Hrabowski: Right.

Peter Robinson: Did you get your parent's permission? Did you march in spite? Let me explain the question.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: It's easy, looking back on these events 60 years ago, to think that the black community rose as one. Well, you were united, but there were hard decisions to make every day.

Freeman Hrabowski: Right.

Peter Robinson: There was violence all around this notion of children marching was not easy. Dr. King himself resisted it for a number of days before deciding it had to be done. So how did you and your family address that? You were how old at this stage?

Freeman Hrabowski: I was 12.

Peter Robinson: 12 years old.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: You were still a child.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah. But I was in the ninth grade. I was about to go to the 10th grade. I had skipped a couple of grades. And I should tell you that most people saw Dr. King as a, certainly a hero, but he was also a troublemaker. He was gonna change things. People don't realize that, in that it was uncomfortable. People were worried, particularly people who were maybe buying houses. The word had gone around that, my goodness, banks could pull mortgages. Right. People were saying, we don't know what's gonna happen. It wasn't like everybody was saying, this is the right thing to do. When you look back on it, it seems like this was all a good idea. No, people were very confused about what to do and about sending children out. So it was n't a given that, oh, this is the right thing to do. They were proud of the idea, we are doing something. But no, we went home. I didn't want to go to church anyway. Who wants to go to church in the middle of the week? I was a rebellious kid. And they placated me by letting me take my math. I love math. Reverend Rice knew I love math. So I'm sitting in the back doing my math, and this man at the lectern says, if the children participate, they'll go to better schools. Now, we loved our teachers, but we always had been told the white schools were better. We wanted to see what that was all about. And I wanted to see if they were as smart as people said they were. 'Cause I knew I was smart, because to me, smart meant you could work hard. Right. And you could solve the math problems. So I'm doing my algebra, and this guy says this, and I look up and it, of course, it's Dr. King. And here's the point. I went home and I said, I want to go. And they said, what? Absolutely not.

Peter Robinson: Same reaction Mary got.

Freeman Hrabowski: Absolutely not. And I said to my parents, in typical Freeman form, you guys are hypocrites. You made me go, I listened and now you say no. And what will your parents say? Go to your room because you are not supposed to tell your parents they're hypocrites. Right. And so I was punished. They sent me to my room. The next morning they came in, they had not slept. They prayed all night. I knew I was in trouble. And they said to me, with real distress on their faces, it wasn't that we didn't trust you, we don't trust the people who will be over you, because if you march, you're going to jail. But we're gonna put you in God's hands. Now, my students say, doc, you must have been really brave. I was not a brave child. If a fight broke out at school, Freeman was running the other way. The only thing I'd ever attacked in my life was a math problem. You get that. Right? But I did want a better education. My teachers were wonderful. We did not have the resources. We didn't understand what great education might be. We didn't understand what it might be. But I did go, and it was a horrific experience. They treated us like slaves, like animals. Too many kids, stinky, not enough bathrooms.

Peter Robinson: This is in prison?

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah, in the jail.

Peter Robinson: So what was it like when you were marching?

Freeman Hrabowski: It was both inspiring and frightening.

Peter Robinson: These are hard questions to ask.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah. Yeah.

Peter Robinson: I don't know if you noticed this, but I'm white. That makes it very, very, very uncomfortable. But I keep thinking-

Freeman Hrabowski: And we in Birmingham, Alabama. Alright.

Peter Robinson: And here we are in Birmingham. But what was it like to have an encounter with a white person? What was it like not to be able to go to a certain store or during this event, to have an encounter with the police and you knew they were going to be against you just because you were black? Do you avoid them? Do you shrink from it? How does this work?

Freeman Hrabowski: It's interesting that Dr. King's-

Peter Robinson: It's gone now, but you remember.

Freeman Hrabowski: No, no. All the people. And the two things I would say, we are all from privilege in that we had these wonderful parents, working mothers and fathers and of faith. We were going to church all the time. Sixth Avenue Baptist, Westminster. And her father, Reverend Rice, our beloved Reverend Rice, Reverend Porter, dear friends, and Reverend Rice was our youth fellowship advisor, he was amazing, Presbyterian, who would come to Sixth Avenue. We would have these wonderful conversations about what it meant to be teenagers. Right. And talking about ideas in our Honor Society. He was an advisor to our Honor Society. Right. And he was an intellectual. And we would have these, so in our community, we could talk about ideas. And yet we, you tell me about you all, but I've never talked to anybody white.

Peter Robinson: You never did?

Condoleezza Rice: No. The only time I remember a white person was we went to visit Santa Claus.

Freeman Hrabowski: Oh yeah.

Condoleezza Rice: And I was five.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah.

Condoleezza Rice: You would go down to Pissits or down to Lovemans to visit Santa Claus. And this particular Santa Claus was taking all the little black children and holding them out here. He was taking little white children and putting them on his knee. Now you knew my father. My father said to my mother, Angelina, if he does that to Condoleezza, I'm gonna pull all that stuff off of him and show him to be the cracker that he is. So there we're sitting there, I'm five, daddy, Santa Claus, daddy, Santa Claus. What a way to meet Santa Claus.

Freeman Hrabowski: That's Reverend Rice.

Condoleezza Rice: So I think somehow Santa Claus could see my father, who was six three and a football player. And when it came time, Santa Claus took me and he put me on his knee said, nice little girl. So that was the only, but to your question, is the only white person I'd ever seen.

Freeman Hrabowski: Context, yeah.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah, yeah.

Peter Robinson: Before we depart, we'll return to it in a moment. But before we depart from those events in 1963, your father, as we've heard, was a beloved figure.

Condoleezza Rice: Yes.

Peter Robinson: He was reverend in this church, the black community was, as I've looked, it's about a hundred thousand people. It strikes me that the pastors, the ministers must have known each other.

Condoleezza Rice: They did, yeah.

Peter Robinson: So your father knew Reverend Shuttlesworth.

Condoleezza Rice: They were good friends.

Peter Robinson: Good friends.

Condoleezza Rice: Yes. Yes.

Peter Robinson: And of course, you were a very little girl. But do you remember at the time these tensions, it's fascinating to me to think, once you think it, it seems obvious, but the assumption that there's this uprising of righteousness and peaceful, nonviolent protest. But, of course, it was more complicated than that. Dr. King was an outsider. This notion of putting children in harm's way. Do you remember your father talking about that at home?

Condoleezza Rice: I do remember my father talking about it. I was little. I'm a little younger than these two. And I remember a couple of things about it. I remember my father saying to my mother who was sitting, standing in our little hallway: Angelina, I'm not gonna go down there and pretend to be nonviolent, because if a policeman takes a billy club to me, I'm gonna try to kill him. And my daughter will be an orphan. Because my father actually didn't believe in the nonviolent part. Do you know who one of my father's great friends was? Stokely Carmichael.

Peter Robinson: Really?

Condoleezza Rice: Yes. He somehow found that more confrontational side, something that he admired. And so when the children's march came along, it was a lot like Mary and Freeman's parents. My father said, why would you send children into Bull Connor's henchman? Why would you do that? I wouldn't let my daughter go. And he was very much against the children's march. But when all his students were all carted off to jail, he came down and he walked around. He had good relationship with the police. They let him walk around and he would call parents and say, I saw your daughter. She's fine. I saw your son.

Peter Robinson: And repeat, more than a thousand kids.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah, yeah.

Peter Robinson: Were jailed.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah. Not too far from here. The jail was not too far from here.

Freeman Hrabowski: And he was wonderful. When I came back, just two, three parts of the story to show you.

Peter Robinson: Please, please.

Freeman Hrabowski: First of all, the reason they allowed me to go was that I challenged my mother. My mother had led a protest in 1948.

Peter Robinson: Really?

Freeman Hrabowski: For the equalization of teacher salaries and was fired for that. And she was always proud of that in another county. And one of her best friends was the mother of Angela Davis.

Peter Robinson: Really?

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah. And my mother and Angela Davis' mother taught together over the years. And my mother taught Angela Davis and her sister, and my mother, and Angela Davis's mother taught me. And they had this great sisterhood about fighting for justice. Alright. And I reminded, I said, mother, you fought for justice. She said, but I was an adult. And I said, but you taught me to think. And they did allow me to go. It was amazing. About her father, when we did get back to school, he and George Bell gave me special attention to see how I was psychologically. And he said to me, remember, you are an A student. You are an A student. He wanted me to remember that. He wanted me to remember how to define myself. It was very important. Just as Mr. Bell, who was the uncle of Alma Vivian Powell, General Powell's wife.

Peter Robinson: Really?

Mary Bush: There's something else.

Condoleezza Rice: That's right, yeah.

Mary Bush: Something else you need to know about Dr. Bell. He was the principal of the Allemen High School, we mentioned earlier that Freeman and I both went to, Dr. Bell was an amazing man. He was very much about excellence. He would come to our classes, he would give the students extra problems to solve, but he was also a disciplinarian. So even the really big guys who might have a tendency to act out were coward by Dr. Bell because he has this-

Condoleezza Rice: He was a tiny guy.

Mary Bush: Booming voice. And he was a tiny man. But we loved him because he was all about hard work and excellence, and always striving to be the best you could be. So when my class was going into its senior year, Dr. Bell was about to retire, and we literally begged him not to retire. This shows you one, how close the principals, the ministers that we've talked about, the teachers were to the students. So it was our parents, who really pushed us about hard work, excellence, and the value of education. But it was also our teachers and our principals.

Condoleezza Rice: You have to be twice as good. Right?

Mary Bush: Twice as good. Twice as good.

Peter Robinson: So, I find this so striking that here you are in the Jim Crow South and you've got parents who are wonderful parents.

Mary Bush: Yes.

Peter Robinson: And schools that are good schools.

Mary Bush: Yes.

Condoleezza Rice: And good teachers.

Peter Robinson: And good teachers, dedicated. I mean, honestly, truly, I hear you describe the circumstances in which you grew up. And I wouldn't hesitate, would not, now my children are older now, but I'd have dropped my children.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: In black Birmingham like that because of the education, the self-confidence.

Mary Bush: Yes.

Condoleezza Rice: But let me-

Peter Robinson: So what am I missing here?

Condoleezza Rice: Let me step back a little bit because I wanna say two things. First of all, about the principles. To be a principal in a school in Birmingham Was like being a God.

Mary Bush: Exactly.

Condoleezza Rice: We admire-

Peter Robinson: The revered position.

Condoleezza Rice: Revered position So Alma Powell's father, Mr. R.C. Johnson was the principal of Parker High, which was the largest black school. And her uncle was the principal of Alleman High, which was the second largest. When Mr. W.W. Whetstone, who was the principal of our elementary school, died. His funeral was like that for the Head of State, because teachers were revered, principals were revered. But there was a dark underbelly to that, which is that if you were an educated black person, you really only had a couple of good options. And teaching was the best option. And so it was a sense of a lack of opportunity for black professionals that led to the best and brightest going into teaching. In another time-

Peter Robinson: So that funeral, everybody understood this is a man who holds a position of importance to us, but he's also the best we have produced.

Condoleezza Rice: The best we have produced

Peter Robinson: The best of our community. I see.

Condoleezza Rice: And if you were a teacher, you were really highly regarded and in another generation or two, people would have other options. And some would take them.

Freeman Hrabowski: With few exceptions, who became physicians and lawyers.

Condoleezza Rice: The few, you had a couple of lawyers, a few businessmen.

Mary Bush: I call this the best minds. We got the best minds because just as Condie said the generation before us, our parents and teachers, they didn't have the other opportunities. The doors were not open. So they became teachers and we were the wonderful blessed recipients of that.

Peter Robinson: I see.

Freeman Hrabowski: But I want to go back because you talk about your children coming here, it depends on what background your children would've had. Because again, I wanna say this, we were so privileged, they gave us the piano lessons, and we had books in the house.

Condoleezza Rice: French lessons.

Freeman Hrabowski: And French lessons, all of that.

Mary Bush: The symphony.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah. Yeah.

Mary Bush: Which we couldn't go to, they did it at home.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah. We couldn't go into the museum, but my mother would get the pamphlets, and we would read stuff on the outside. And so my parents sent me to Massachusetts to get extra education and to see what it would be like to be in classes with white kids in the summers and I saw the difference between the Southern education and the education of New England. And I saw the superiority in Massachusetts, you see, in chemistry, in literature. And here's the point, clearly the money that they were putting into education in New England would make that education there far superior to any education in public schools for black or white in Alabama. And you see it in the standardized test scores for children in general. As I look at, as I study test scores, whatever level. Alright, number one. Number two, when you look beyond the well-educated families as we were from the working families. All right? When you look at poor children, white and black, here or in America, but in Alabama. And you see what happens to those children. Back then and today, the future is not bright. That's the challenge.

Condoleezza Rice: But Freeman, I wanna challenge you on one thing and agree with you on another, I'm not sure it was superior, right?

Peter Robinson: The New England education?

Condoleezza Rice: The New England education, because I'm not sure I could have turned out better if I'd gone to school in New England or that you could, or that Mary could. And I look at Amelia Rutledge and I look at Cheryl McCarthy.

Freeman Hrabowski: For the best, for the very best.

Condoleezza Rice: But we weren't actually elite. We were kind of professional class, middle-class. There was a more elite black community that lived over past Smithfield. All right.

Freeman Hrabowski: But I'm particularly looking at math and science.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah.

Freeman Hrabowski: I'm looking at math and science. All right. I'm looking at chemistry, I'm looking at those areas and I'm looking at, for example, what was covered in chemistry in Massachusetts and what was covered here. And then I looked at what happened when I took some courses at the university here at the white university compared to there, it was superior, as a mathematician, I'm saying.

Condoleezza Rice: All that I'm saying is the resources may have been superior.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah. The resources.

Condoleezza Rice: I'm not sure that the instruction was. And I am gonna tell you why, because I then went to Denver and I went to one of the best high schools in Denver, St. Mary's Academy. When we arrived in Denver, I went to St. Mary's Academy 'cause my parents who were educators said the Denver Public schools are not as good as the schools that you went to in Birmingham.

Freeman Hrabowski: Well, let's say this.

Condoleezza Rice: So they made that choice.

Freeman Hrabowski: I love the fact that we can disagree like that.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah.

Freeman Hrabowski: Because we also disagree on philosophies of other things. And that lemme just say that, listen, let's go there too. Let's go there too. And I always say middle-class Birmingham may love each other in many ways, but politically and stuff, we have some differences here. We have agreed to disagree.

Condoleezza Rice: But I wanna-

Freeman Hrabowski: But lemme tell you my part as mathematician, standardized test scores. All you need to do is look at standardized test scores in Massachusetts compared to Alabama.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah.

Freeman Hrabowski: And my point is made QED.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah.

Freeman Hrabowski: Mathematically, right.

Condoleezza Rice: No, well, I don't know about standardized test scores. I know where you ended up. But let me go back to a point, the place where I agree, but I wanna extend the story.

Freeman Hrabowski: Go ahead.

Condoleezza Rice: All right. So it is absolutely true that if you were poor.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Condoleezza Rice: In the communities here where Mary, and Freeman, and others of our friends grew up, faith, family, education.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yes, yes, yes.

Condoleezza Rice: Faith was first, family was, and we had two-parent families.

Freeman Hrabowski: That's true.

Condoleezza Rice: That cared. And then education. Right behind this church there was a government project, as they called it in those days, called Loveman's Village. And those kids were poor.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yes.

Condoleezza Rice: But my parents were determined that those kids were gonna get some of what they were able to give me.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yes.

Condoleezza Rice: And so my father, when he would have, there was a dentist who came here on Tuesday nights to do dentistry.

Freeman Hrabowski: To the church?

Condoleezza Rice: To the church. Those kids got to come. When he had math, algebra tutoring, and French, those kids got to come.

Freeman Hrabowski: And Sixth Avenue had some of those children.

Condoleezza Rice: And Sixth Avenue had those. And so I don't wanna give the impression that we just sat on our privilege.

Freeman Hrabowski: That's right. That's right.

Condoleezza Rice: Our parents were determined that that privilege was going to be extended to those who might not otherwise have had it.

Peter Robinson: I'd like to return to the events of spring and autumn of 1963. But I wanna go back to this notion of what deprivation you felt. You said that Santa held black children out here.

Condoleezza Rice: Yes.

Peter Robinson: That's something everybody can get.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: You said your parents had to send you to New England to see-

Freeman Hrabowski: And they were geniuses. I wanna say something that they wouldn't say. Okay. Both of these young women, and I say this based on my own education, they're geniuses.

Peter Robinson: These two ladies?

Yeah, they both are geniuses.

Condoleezza Rice: No, we're not.

Freeman Hrabowski: They're just that damn good.

Condoleezza Rice: Pretty good.

Freeman Hrabowski: Excuse the expression. No, no, no. She's playing it down. I mean, of course, they went ahead, they had a good, solid education. But they're geniuses. They are.

Peter Robinson: In what way? I mean, I'm conscious that the year 1963 began in this state with the inauguration of George Corley Wallace. And he said, January, 1963.

- Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.

Freeman Hrabowski: I will never forget looking at that man's face when he told me I couldn't go to the University of Alabama. I was sitting in front of the TV crying. And you know what my mother said to me, you don't have time to be a victim.

Condoleezza Rice: That's right.

Peter Robinson: Wow.

Freeman Hrabowski: She said, get the knowledge. When I was in Massachusetts, I called my parents and I said, they don't like me. Because all of them are talking about the quality of the education, nobody would speak to me there either. They wouldn't speak to me, the children wouldn't speak to me. The teachers wouldn't speak to me. I'd raise my hand when nobody else was raising them because I was getting an answer. I was 13 and they were 16. Alright. I'd raise my hand. Yeah, I was precocious. And I didn't have the answer. They'd look right through me. It was my first time understanding what Ellison meant by the "Invisible Man". And I would be so hurt. I'd be raising my little fat hand trying to get 'em to call on me. They would not call on me. I called my mom and dad and I said, they don't like me. And she said, how many more black kids are in the class? I said, none. She said, how many people you think from Birmingham are there getting that education? I said, none. She said, you know, I love you, right? I said, yeah. She said, have a seat, I sat down, she said, son, suck it up. She said, suck it up, because you know what? The world is not there.

Mary Bush: Let's talk about deprivation.

Peter Robinson: How did you experience it in your life? How did you experience the deprivation?

Mary Bush: Deprivation?

Peter Robinson: Deprivation, yes.

Mary Bush: Well, okay. I couldn't drink water from a white water fountain, but there was a black water fountain. And I'll tell you a funny story. One of our other friends, Otto Stallworth, said that he was downtown one day with his mom and he sort of ran away from her while she was buying something, and he drank out of the white water fountain. And he ran back to her and said, mommy, mommy, their water tastes just like ours. Okay. So deprivation was not being able to go to a restaurant other than the one black-owned restaurant, or a hotel, other than the one black-owned hotel.

Condoleezza Rice: At the estel.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah.

Mary Bush: Yeah. Or to Kiddie Land Park. But what I found out years later, after we could finally go to Kiddie Land Park, when I was adult, I said, oh, I gotta see it. It was horrible. It was dirty. It was just unbelievable. So we were not really deprived except for things that Freeman is talking about. Like going to some of the schools that we might have wanted to in Alabama. So our parents made up for what would have been deprivation. We could only go to the symphony downtown one day a year. We could not-

Peter Robinson: Blacks were allowed one day a year?

Mary Bush: Blacks were allowed one day a year. We could not go to the Birmingham Public Library downtown. We could only go to the community one, which is a few blocks from here. However, our parents made sure that we had exposure to the symphony, to classical music. Condie's mother and grandmother.

Condoleezza Rice: Yes.

Mary Bush: Taught her classical piano.

Condoleezza Rice: Exactly.

Mary Bush: And some of my other friends, they were taught ballet. So they made it up for it. They made sure that we read broadly and widely. I read so much, Freeman loves to tell this story, almost burned our house down once.

Freeman Hrabowski: We did, we did, flashlight or something under the cover.

Peter Robinson: Oh, yeah.

Mary Bush: Naked lamp bulb. Because I didn't wanna stop reading and after that-

Freeman Hrabowski: We were reading broadly, we were doing that for the privileged kids.

Condoleezza Rice: No. And Freeman, I have to keep challenging you on the privileged kids.

Freeman Hrabowski: All these children at our schools, unfortunately.

Condoleezza Rice: Our parents were, I doubt my parents ever in their lifetime, made more than $80,000 together.

Freeman Hrabowski: But relative to the other blacks on our community, we were privileged.

Condoleezza Rice: No, no. But let's stick with this.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah, yeah.

Condoleezza Rice: Because to say we were privileged, I think is to underestimate what our parents achieved.

Mary Bush: That's right.

Condoleezza Rice: Right.

Freeman Hrabowski: Oh, I see differently you,

Condoleezza Rice: When you think about what Mary said.

Freeman Hrabowski: Relative to other people.

Condoleezza Rice: We have a friend, Deborah Cheatham, who said that she wanted to go to Kiddie Land. And her parents said, you don't wanna go to Kiddie Land, we're going to Disneyland.

Mary Bush: All right, yes.

Condoleezza Rice: So they found ways.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yes.

Condoleezza Rice: But when I think of privilege, I think of it was almost ordained.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah.

Condoleezza Rice: And I don't think you can say, my parents worked. My mother was a teacher. My father was a teacher, football coach, minister.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah.

Condoleezza Rice: He had more jobs than, we talked about Denise McNair's father.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah.

Mary Bush: Yes.

Condoleezza Rice: He was the milkman, the mailman, the photographer, and he taught.

Freeman Hrabowski: Right.

Condoleezza Rice: So they did everything to give us opportunity.

Freeman Hrabowski: Absolutely.

Condoleezza Rice: And I think they worked hard to make sure that other kids could.

Freeman Hrabowski: My parents worked six jobs.

Mary Bush: Yeah.

Freeman Hrabowski: Six.

Mary Bush: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: Name 'em.

Mary Bush: My father worked three jobs.

Freeman Hrabowski: My father left, my father had a college degree. He left it to become a steel, working on steel, because he could make more money working in a steel factory and doing the reading and writing for his white supervisor. Who was illiterate? Alright. He worked at the railroad station and doing the same thing for the white folks. And then he worked at the funeral home on the weekend. My mother worked, a math and english teacher, but then she did GED in the evening.

Peter Robinson: She tutored kids?

Freeman Hrabowski: No, no. She taught people to get the GED. And then she sold insurance to give me the best.

Peter Robinson: You had multiple jobs?

Mary Bush: My father worked three jobs. My parents were not educators like Condie's and Freeman's, but they were passionate about education. And to a large extent, they were self-educated. They grew up in a small farm town about 90 miles from Birmingham. And, the black high school went to the 10th grade, whereas the white high school went to the 12th grade. So my mother got a 10th-grade education. My father, unfortunately, had to stop school when he was 13 years old because his father died. And he was the only boy who could work the farm. And that hurt him all of his life because he passionately loved education. However, he read everything he could get his hands on, newspapers, books. He was the center of conversation at dinner parties my parents would give. I can remember him talking about things in the international world, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, what Khrushchev was doing, what was happening in Asia. And I think that's where I got my love of international things. It started there. So they both really educated themselves.

Peter Robinson: Let's go back to the late spring and the early autumn of 1963. Another timeline here. We ended the timeline a moment ago with the truce. Now here's what happens. Official Birmingham, the business leaders in Birmingham promised to desegregate and they begin to do so. But they can't control all of Birmingham and the white racists continue a fight. May 11th, the bombing at the Gaston Hotel. You mentioned Mr. Gaston. He was the black businessman who owned the one hotel in town.

Freeman Hrabowski: Now we'd agree, he was privileged. He was privileged.

Condoleezza Rice: No, he was rich.

Freeman Hrabowski: He was our millionaire.

Peter Robinson: Alright.

Mary Bush: Yes.

Peter Robinson: So there's a May 11th, a bombing at the Gaston Motel. May 12th, President Kennedy sends troops to bases near Birmingham, intending to use them to restore order, if necessary. May 20th. The Birmingham Board of Education orders the expulsion from school of the more than 1000 black students who had been arrested in the protests. Two days later, a federal judge reverses the expulsion, ordering the schools to admit those students. July 23rd, summer, schools out, the Birmingham Council votes unanimously to repeal all of Birmingham segregation laws. In August and early September, a series of bombings take place. Among these incidents, there are too many for me to list, two bombings at the home of Arthur Shores, a black civil rights lawyer, firebombs thrown into the home of Mr. Gaston, A.G. Gaston once again. September 9th, Alabama Governor George Wallace turns black students away from state universities, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham. September 10th, the day afterwards, President Kennedy federalizes the Alabama National Guard, ordering Secretary of Defense McNamara, to enforce the integration of Alabama schools. And this brings us to the Sunday morning of September 15th, when the 16th Street Baptist Church is bombed and four girls are killed. Three were 14 and one was just 11. You remember that morning?

Condoleezza Rice: I remember that. I was right here in this church because my father was the pastor. My mother was the Minister of Music. And so we were here early. And it, of course, no cell phones. But word started to spread. You could feel the church shutter because it's not that far.

Peter Robinson: You felt the explosion?

Condoleezza Rice: You felt the explosion.

Mary Bush: Oh, yes.

Condoleezza Rice: And down at Sixth Avenue, I'm sure you did too. You could feel it.

Peter Robinson: You were in church that morning as well?

Freeman Hrabowski: We all were.

Peter Robinson: I was not. That was one of the few Sundays we did not go to church. But I felt it at my home.

Freeman Hrabowski: We all felt it.

Condoleezza Rice: We all felt it. And you knew what it was because there'd been so many bombings. And then word started to spread. It had been at 16th Street Baptist Church. There were four little girls. They were in the basement in the bathroom. And then the names started to come out. And everybody knew at least one of those little girls. Denise McNair, who had been in this church kindergarten. I have a picture of my father giving her her kindergarten certificate. My uncle taught Addie Mae Collins. And he said that Monday morning when he woke up and went to school, her chair was empty and he just broke down and cried. Cynthia Wesley. I mean, everybody knew these little girls.

Mary Bush: Yeah. Yeah. That's a day I will never forget. It brings me almost to tears now. Because these four little girls would also have been stars.

Condoleezza Rice: Yes, they would have.

Mary Bush: Denise McNair was the daughter of one of my elementary school teachers. So she was the youngest, so not in my age group, but she always came to her mother's classroom after her classes. So I knew her very well. Cynthia Wesley had just been at my birthday party a few months before. So this was unthinkable, unimaginable. And it just tears at me to this day. It really does.

Peter Robinson: But again, difficult questions here. You've been thinking about this all your lives. So difficult questions for me. But what was the effect? Was there any thought that it had gone too far? That maybe it all had pushed the white community too far too fast? That criticism of Dr. King had been validated? No such thought ever entered? No.

Condoleezza Rice: I think if anything, this one did reinforce the sense that these were awful people.

Peter Robinson: Who had to be stood up to.

Condoleezza Rice: Who had to be stood up to. And I just remember being for the first time, really scared because my parents, I thought, could deal with anything. I never worried that I was gonna, but that night I asked if I could sleep in their bed.

Peter Robinson: Oh, did you?

Condoleezza Rice: I did. That night.

Freeman Hrabowski: This is the difference in ages.

Condoleezza Rice: Because I was a little girl.

Freeman Hrabowski: She was a little girl.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah.

Freeman Hrabowski: Remember I was in 10th grade. We were in high school, two people said to those of us who had gone to jail, if y'all hadn't done this, those girls would still be alive.

Condoleezza Rice: Really? I never heard that.

Peter Robinson: So they did say that?

Freeman Hrabowski: Oh, yes.

Mary Bush: Never heard that.

Condoleezza Rice: Never heard that.

Freeman Hrabowski: They told King that. That they told those of us who had gone to jail. If y'all hadn't done this, if Dr. King hadn't come here, things would be better.

Condoleezza Rice: Where was that coming from, Freeman?

Freeman Hrabowski: From blacks.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah. But I mean, who?

Freeman Hrabowski: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. It was very clear. It was very clear. Very clear. And Dr. King felt that when he took courage, when he came and had to look into the faces of those mothers.

Mary Bush: At the funeral.

Freeman Hrabowski: At the funeral. And I was chosen to represent Alleman and I came-

Peter Robinson: Alleman High School.

Freeman Hrabowski: Alleman High School. And my parents had said I could come to the funeral. And Dr. Bell saw me and he said, come here son. And I didn't have an appropriate tie. And at that time he was supposed to wear a dark tie. And I just put on a tie and he took off his tie. He had a black tie, and he tied the tie on me. It was so special. And he said, you're representing all of us. And he said, just remember, you're representing all of us and we are proud of you. It was so special. Really was. But this is the point. Dr. King and I looked in his face. I was sitting up on the balcony looking right at him. And he said, when he was looking into the faces of those mothers, and I'll never forget the three coffins with little Denise's, little coffin in the middle. I'd never seen multiple small coffins.

Condoleezza Rice: So small.

Freeman Hrabowski: This small coffin. There was only three. One mother refused to allow her daughter.

Peter Robinson: Oh, she did?

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah. It was only three coffins. But the baby, Denise, they left in the middle and he said, life is as hard as steel as he looked into those faces.

- [Martin Luther King] Life is hard, at times as hard as crucible steel, it has its bleak and difficult moments. If one will hold on, he will discover that God walks with him. And that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace. And no greater tribute can be paid to you as parents. And no greater epitaph can come to them as children than where they died and what they were doing when they died, they died between the sacred walls of the church of God. And they were discussing the eternal meaning of love.

Freeman Hrabowski: And he was just, what do you say to those mothers when you know what people are telling them that it's your fault. I'll never forget that feeling. The other thing though, that I've talked about before, it was the first time in my church, in our church, I had seen white people. On the right-hand side, men of all faiths, rabbis, Muslims, priests. And it was the first time I'd seen white men crying.

Mary Bush: I think as heinous an event as this was, I think it's one of the things that really started changing minds and the hearts in America, in Birmingham and in America.

Condoleezza Rice: The whole country.

Freeman Hrabowski: I didn't know white men could cry about black girls being killed. They had never thought about that.

Peter Robinson: So that event to some component of the white community in Birmingham, that event, they said, this has to stop.

Freeman Hrabowski: Not just in Birmingham, but in the country.

Mary Bush: Yeah.

Condoleezza Rice: I also think that, you mentioned the truce and what was happening in black businesses, and I'm gonna say something fairly controversial. For a lot of the white community, segregation had become just a pain.

Mary Bush: Yeah.

Condoleezza Rice: You know, it was just an inconvenience in some ways.

Mary Bush: Yeah.

Condoleezza Rice: And so I remember my dad was highly regarded by a man named Clay Sheffield, who was the head of counseling, guidance counseling for the whole city. And my father was kind of his protege in some ways. And my mother got a very bad infection, bronchitis. And so she kept trying doctors and nothing was working. And so my father mentioned this to Mr. Sheffield and he said, I want you to take her to this doctor, Dr. Carmichael. And so we went and the black, this was probably 1961 or '62 maybe. And the waiting room for the blacks was next to the pharmacy and the paint was peeling and you had to go up the backstairs. And Dr. Carmichael saw my mother, and then he said to my father, Reverend Rice, Angelina needs to come every week to see me, but why don't you come after five? And then after five we could sit in the regular waiting room. And so you could see that, we forget there were people of conscience who were white. And so I do think this was catalyzing, but even before then, beginning to think, my father had a very close relationship with the pastor of Shades Valley Presbyterian Church, which is over in Mountain Brook. And they would exchange youth fellowships and so forth.

Peter Robinson: Mountain Brook, the white enclave, the wealthy white.

Condoleezza Rice: Wealthy white enclave. But when '63 happened, they had to stop because it was so violent. But there were things going on underneath. And we should acknowledge this.

Mary Bush: This is a very, very good point. My father's three jobs. He was a steelworker. And he would go there from seven to three. He would come home, have dinner, get a little rest, and then he would go to his two other jobs, which were to clean two buildings. He was the janitor for Liberty National Insurance Company and for the US Steel Credit Union. So I tell everybody, I got my start in finance very early because my brother and I, sometimes on a Friday evening or sometimes even during the week, we would go with him and my mother. 'Cause she would help him sometimes. And we would do our homework while they were finishing up the work. Sometimes there were, and it was of course, all whites who staffed both organizations. And the ones who were still there were just so very kind to my brother and me, to a person. And whenever they had parties, they would leave little treats for us. So there were people of good conscience, and people who really cared about what was going on, and didn't agree with what was going on.

Peter Robinson: Two final questions, if I may. And here's the first one. Here we sit six decades later. Six decades later, your own lives have turned out pretty darn well. An amazing career in finance and business, the presidency of a major institution, Secretary of State. When you return to this town, do you feel, looking back on those events that they had to happen, that it was right, and that the events of 1963 represent a victory? Or when you look at this town today, where there's just no racial tension, at least that I've experienced, do you say, well, it was inevitable, this somehow or other segregation had to end. Maybe that wasn't necessary. Maybe it would all just washed itself out in time.

Freeman Hrabowski: So let me say something that's controversial. People think of Condie as the Secretary of State. I see her still as this amazing force who still to me was a little girl walking with her father with a book. Because when she left Birmingham, she was only maybe 11 or so, 1965. So when we still have this argument, she was privileged, alright, in this, I don't care what she says, she was privileged.

Peter Robinson: He's not gonna let that one.

Freeman Hrabowski: Lemme say why, because our church and 16th Street were privileged churches. This was a privileged church, a Presbyterian church, a black Presbyterian church is a church of privilege. Now compared to whites, it's a different word. But in the black community, usually, you're gonna have a larger percentage of educated people. In the sixties, only 3% of blacks had a college degree. Let's think that way, and you'd have more blacks. Oh, who could play classical piano? So in that sense, alright, now why do I say that? So, we were challenged in the sense that there were segregation. We couldn't go to places. Alright? Today, educated people have done well in America and in Alabama, in Birmingham, the Head of Medicine for the University of Alabama, quite frankly, an African American, a mentee of mine, who recently moved to New York to a big position. It's a big deal. Big deal. At the same time, at the same time in this state, you still have major challenges. While you may have a black who is the mayor, alright? And you have some blacks at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, you've got the same challenges that you have in other cities that the vast majority of black children still cannot read well. And you still have the segregation. So yes, we needed the sixties. And what it showed was that even in the most privileged of churches like 16th Street, where you did have a number of educated people.

Peter Robinson: Are you proud of going to jail?

Freeman Hrabowski: I'm very proud. I'm very proud to have been.

Mary Bush: Should be.

Peter Robinson: Are you proud of him for it?

Mary Bush: Oh, absolutely.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yes, yes, yes.

Mary Bush: Absolutely.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yes. Yes, yes.

Condoleezza Rice: Of course. But I wanna come back to what we should celebrate and what we shouldn't.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yes. Good, good.

Condoleezza Rice: So I won't use the word privilege, I still don't like that word. But were we in a position to succeed?

Freeman Hrabowski: Good.

Condoleezza Rice: Yes. I'm not even the first PhD in my family, my father's sister has a PhD in Victorian literature, all right.

Freeman Hrabowski: You make QED, QED, QED.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah, right. Not even the first PhD. So were we in that sense, were we given a head start? Absolutely.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah.

Condoleezza Rice: But that head start came from Mary's parents who were, your father who had to drop out at 13.

Mary Bush: Labor.

Condoleezza Rice: So in that sense, the head start, the privilege, if you will, came from an attitude about what ought to be our lives, and our prospects, and our horizons. It was almost like Bull Connor is not gonna own our children.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah.

Mary Bush: Right.

Condoleezza Rice: And so that was the privilege, that we had people who believe that.

Freeman Hrabowski: I get it.

Condoleezza Rice: It is still the case that there are people who are trapped in the witche’s brew that is race and poverty.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yes.

Condoleezza Rice: If you are black and educated and doing well, yes, there are still some awful things. You know the young man, Aubrey, who was running and was shot, it happens. But for the most part, you can make a great life in America. And now you can go to a restaurant and now you can go to the University of Alabama. And if you wanna take your Kiddie Land, they'd be happy to have you. So that constraint, that ugliness is gone. But we have to remember that we can't celebrate as a country when so many people are left behind.

Freeman Hrabowski: That's right.

Condoleezza Rice: And now not all of them are black.

Freeman Hrabowski: No.

Condoleezza Rice: If you live in the rural South your prospects are not very good.

Freeman Hrabowski: That's right.

Condoleezza Rice: And so people like us, what our parents taught us, what our teachers taught us is not to just enjoy your privilege, that you have to extend to others. You have to care about others. What Freeman has done as an educator is really remarkable because your students didn't all come from privilege.

Freeman Hrabowski: That's right. That's right. And they're not all black, black and white.

Condoleezza Rice: Yes. And so to be able to extend that hand of, all right, I need to pull you up too.

Freeman Hrabowski: Yeah.

Condoleezza Rice: That's what we need to do because we should celebrate what Birmingham produced in us and in others. But Birmingham's got a lot more work to do. And so does every city in this country.

Peter Robinson: Last question, again, I'm taking you back to the events of the spring of 1963. Students listening, well, let's put it this way, Freshmen at your institution at Stanford were born four decades after these events, four decades ago. They stand farther from the events of 1963 than you stood from the First World War when those events were taking place. This is old history to them. Can you give me a sentence? I mean, really compress it. What do they need to grasp? What do they need to hold on?

Mary Bush: What they need to grasp is that a lot of life is about attitude and belief. Now I know as Freeman and Condie have beautifully pointed out here, that there are many people, many young people, many children who live in such circumstances that it's hard to take on that attitude and belief. But it's made harder by either parents or society or whoever tells them that they are limited in what they can do and what they can be. We were told, despite the circumstances here in Birmingham, that we could do and be anything that we wanted, our parents believed that, they had that vision. Our teachers believed it. They said, we knew change was coming and that we had to have you in a state of readiness. That's what one of my teachers said to me. And that is the message that we all need to carry to children today. To parents, particularly those who live in circumstances that are very, very challenging. I chair an organization in Washington where our kids come from the poorest areas. There's a lot of violence in their neighborhoods. But we get them mentors, people who can help them see that there are opportunities and that they can be those things as well. That's part of the purpose that we serve.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah. I would say that there are two messages depending on where you sit. So if you sit in a position where you have been fortunate enough to be able to really take advantage of what America is, then by all means, go and help somebody who has less. Because the thing that sometimes really gets on my nerves about young people, and that means I'm getting older, is that sense that, oh, woe is me. Oh, things are, if you go and help somebody who has less than you have, you will never again ask, why do I have so little? You'll say, why do I have so much?

Mary Bush: Absolutely.

Condoleezza Rice: And so if you're in that position, then I don't care what you do, volunteer to go help a kid, work at the Boys and Girls Club, do something to help others. If you are that young person, and I work with Boys and Girls Clubs and I see them, the kid living in a car where the parents are totally dysfunctional. But you can still make it. There are still ways up and out. You have to work very, very hard. But to Mary's mentoring point, there has to be an advocate for that child. It has to come from someplace. But I just feel so badly when kids will sometimes say to me, 75% of the people in my neighborhood never finished school. And they think of themselves as a statistic. And I say, be in the 25% that does. Be in that statistic.

Peter Robinson: A 19-year-old student of yours says, you went to prison, what was that all about?

Freeman Hrabowski: Right.

Peter Robinson: How do you answer that?

Freeman Hrabowski: I say that I hear so many elected officials today talking about moral clarity. Now, here's my moral clarity that I talked about when I was 12. We must speak truth to power and I believe in our country. And so the first thing I'm gonna say to young people is that we must vote. And I'm not gonna tell you the whom to vote for, but I am gonna say this, vote for people who tell the truth.

Mary Bush: Thank you.

Freeman Hrabowski: Vote for people who care about children. Okay. Vote for people who care about poor people. Right. Who wants a country who doesn't wanna see poor people at the bottom killing each other. That we can be better than this as a country, where poor people are dying every day. That's what we have to be. We can be so much better as a country. We are better than this, as a country.

Condoleezza Rice: We're better than this. And Birmingham, I think, shows that we can be better than this because despite its long, and difficult, and tortured history, it did produce some of us.

Freeman Hrabowski: Some of us. Yeah.

Condoleezza Rice: And oh, by the way, it is a different place than it was. When I would travel around the world as Secretary and people would say, how can you speak for America? Your country was slave-owning. You grew up in segregated Birmingham. And I would say, since when did people tell you that democracy was ever a finished product? And in fact, that is the one lesson that Birmingham shows.

Peter Robinson: Condoleezza Rice, Freeman Hrabowski, Mary Bush, thank you.

Condoleezza Rice: Thank you.

Mary Bush: Thank you, Peter.

Peter Robinson: For Uncommon Knowledge, filming today at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama. I'm Peter Robinson. Thank you for joining us.

Peter Robinson: What a beautiful sunny day.

Condoleezza Rice: Isn't it gorgeous? We got very fortunate about that.

Peter Robinson: Yeah. Did you see Dr. King at all?

Condoleezza Rice: I did. I saw one of his speeches. I saw him leading and marching close to our neighborhood. I never met him. I've met his children and I knew Coretta Scott King, but yeah, I remember him well.

Peter Robinson: Condie, I have to say, prepping for our visit here today.

Condoleezza Rice: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: I read and re-read the Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Condoleezza Rice: Birmingham Jail. Yes. Yes.

Peter Robinson: This document, all that he was doing comes out of his notion of the church.

Condoleezza Rice: And children of God

Peter Robinson: And children of God.

Condoleezza Rice: If you are a child of God, then how could you treat other children of God this way? He also, we've tended what happens with a figure like Dr. King is that over time people put on him whatever their thoughts are, and their beliefs, and their ideology. And we have to keep going back to the essence of who he was. He believed in this country, actually.

Peter Robinson: Yes.

Condoleezza Rice: He believed this country could redeem itself.

Peter Robinson: Yes.

Condoleezza Rice: He believed in a colorblind content of your character. And yet sometimes he's used to talk about other ways of thinking about race and so, and he would have a long legacy actually beyond the Civil Rights legacy because he would get concerned about human rights across the world, and the treatment of workers, and the like. But the essence of what he did here was to try to make America be what it said it was.

overlay image