Oprah: This month, the theme of the magazine is freedom. When I say the word freedom, what does it mean to you?

Condoleezza: It means the opportunity to soar as high as you possibly can. It means people are not going to judge you or put a block in your way because of how you look, what language you speak, or where you came from. But freedom is not the ability to do anything you want—that's a misrepresentation. There is a responsibility that comes with freedom: to use it well. That's why I've always found the hedonistic or anarchist view of freedom troubling.

Oprah: The freedom of this country is what has allowed you, a black woman from segregated Birmingham, to accomplish what you have in your life.

Condoleezza: I'd much rather be a minority in this country than anyplace else in the world.

Oprah: Do you see yourself as a minority, or do you see yourself as Condoleezza?

Condoleezza: I see myself as a minority. My black identity is very integrated in me. I'm also Condoleezza, so I react badly if people assume that they know what Condoleezza is about because she's black.

Oprah: You have a very unusual name. Did you like it growing up?

Condoleezza: I liked it but it was cumbersome. I can remember in second grade or third grade the teacher would start down the list the first day: Jo-Jo Smith, Ann Downey, Rice...Rice....

Oprah: It's working for you now.

Condoleezza: Yes.

Oprah: It's so cool to have an unusual name.

Condoleezza: There are downsides to it, but yeah.

Oprah: What do you think you'll do when you're finished with this job?

Condoleezza: I'll probably go back to being an academic. I really love ideas and writing. I already have ideas for five different books, none of which will be best-sellers. They'll be books on subjects such as the structure of American policy.

Oprah: I guess we won't be seeing your book on Oprah's Book Club!

Condoleezza: I'm afraid not! But I'm sure my books will be adopted in every political science class around the country. I do love to teach—I miss my kids. In a class of 20, there are always two or three for whom the lights go on. When that happens, I think I've done for them what Dr. Korbel did for me.

Oprah: Do you love the glamorous side of this life?

Condoleezza: I like to dress up, but I don't go to very many of the White House events—6:30 A.M. to 9 P.M. is a long day. I'd rather be in bed. I'm a bit of a homebody. I need what I call putter time.


Next Story