Rice to hold book signing at Foster

Ethan Summers

The Blackburn Institute is bringing Condoleezza Rice home to Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama.

Rice, former secretary of state for President Bush and a professor of political science at Stanford University, will visit campus Thursday.

She will speak from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Ferguson Theater and sign copies of her book, “Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family,” in the Foster Auditorium Lobby from 1 to 2:30 p.m. To have a book signed by Rice, the book must be purchased on site at Foster for $27.

Rice’s visit began when her publicist contacted the University and the Blackburn Institute, said Jimmy Young, coordinator of the Blackburn Institute.

“[Rice] has a unique relationship with the Blackburn Institute,” Young said. “Her father worked with Blackburn and she was very close to Blackburn. I’ve been told Blackburn is mentioned seven times in her book,” he said.

Tuscaloosa, Stillman College and the University of Alabama are integral to Rice’s identity, said Colby Cooper, a spokesman for Rice.

“We chose the University of Alabama because it is very much a part of her life story, to the degree that her family moved to Tuscaloosa when she was a young girl and her father worked at Stillman College,” Cooper said. “In a very poetic nature, there is no more perfect start as a part of her life story, than to do it in Tuscaloosa.”

Rice’s book is a memoir about her life, her parents and growing up in the South, Cooper said.

“This is one of two books, and this is a book on her parents and her upbringing and the extraordinary community that was around her and the other children growing up in segregation,” he said.

“This principal point of why [a personal memoir] went first is, as she tells people, one of the most common questions she gets is ‘How did you become who you were?’ She says you have to know John and Angelena, her parents,” he said.

In 2012, a book is planned for release that will focus on her role as secretary of state.

Young said Rice’s book signing would be the perfect opportunity for anyone interested to see the newly renovated Foster Auditorium and meet Rice.

The signing location is not without significance. The auditorium is being rededicated today following extensive renovations. It is also the site of Gov. George Wallace’s infamous Stand at the Schoolhouse Door.

In the summer of 1963, Wallace barred two black students from registering for classes. An order passed down from President Kennedy through the Alabama National Guard eventually forced Wallace to move and allow the students access.

“With the reopening of [Foster] and the dedication of it, we didn’t feel like there was a better place to host her, especially when her book is talking about growing up in the segregated South and sort of being able to break through that,” Young said. “She talks about overcoming those types of obstacles that people had to overcome to integrate.”

Cooper said the University chose Foster as the venue for her signing but that the arrangement is acceptable for Rice.

“As it relates to her, we find no greater significance to highlight where we have come and how far we have come to have her signing the books about her personal story on the steps where Gov. Wallace blocked those black students back in 1963,”