Condi’s heroes are two women leaders from the civil rights movement. One woman Condi greatly admires is the late Rosa Parks. The civil rights movement has been declared launched by many historians on December 1, 1955, the day Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. In 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law under which Parks had been fined following her arrest, thus outlawing racial segregation on public transportation. When Parks died in 2005, Condi honored her by sitting in the front row of the church at her funeral.
Condi believes that the legal changes are only part of the civil rights story. Equally important were the people who had prepared and educated themselves to take advantage of the laws when the changes in law finally did arrive.
Condi’s other hero is also an outstanding woman leader in the struggle for civil rights and equality. Her name is Dr. Dorothy Height. Although she may not be as famous as some of the other movement leaders, she has made tremendous contributions to the black community. Condi spoke to Ebony magazine about influential black leaders in her life, including this special lady: "I remember the stories about all of them…the well-known people, like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, were, of course, a part of my life. But probably to me, my personal heroine is Dr. Dorothy Height…People who had that foresight to see, as the struggle unfolded, that education was the key to having a whole generation of people who were ready to take advantage once the United States came to terms with segregation were my heroes"
Dr. Height is one of the nation’s top human rights leaders. She was the only woman in the "Big Six," a prominent group of civil rights leaders that included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The members made plans for the civil rights movement. She has received numerous prestigious awards commending her work to promote black family life and for reinforcing the historic strengths and traditional values of the African-American family. President Reagan bestowed the Citizens Medal Award on her "for her tireless efforts on behalf of the less fortunate" and President Bush awarded her the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of her many contributions to the nation. "People need to see each other as people, not as races," says Dr. Height, and she credits her mother with teaching her to help others and to deal with prejudice and hatred. The principle of self-reliance is behind many of the programs that Height started, with a special emphasis on black woman and children. These values also ring true with Condi.
Condi’s parents followed the same philosophy as Dr. Height. They believed that one day the walls of segregation would fall, and they wanted their daughter ready for that day. They gave her a boost of self-confidence and a wonderful education so that she would be prepared and strengthened to become anything that she wanted.
Condi says it this way, "My parents had me absolutely convinced that, well, you may not be able to have a hamburger at Woolworth’s but you can be president of the United States."