Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a Jackson crowd Tuesday night about the importance of America's role in spreading democracy globally in a speech that frequently, if not explicitly, advocated and defended Bush-era foreign policy.
10/20/09 Condoleezza Rice is the keynote speaker at the 12th Annual Union University Scholarship Banquet on October 20, 2009 at the Carl Perkins Civic Center.
"The American spirit will lead the world," she said in ending her speech, which drew a standing ovation. "In its absence, the world would be a much, much worse place. ... If we're OK, everyone else will be OK, too."
Rice, whose speech was part of Union University's scholarship banquet, also got applause for urging less federal involvement in the American economy, saying it should be driven by the much more "innovative" and "creative" private sector. The Obama administration has used massive federal spending to try and stimulate the American economy out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
But she also lauded President Barack Obama's election as another astonishing step away from the turbulent and trying parts of the civil rights movement she saw in her early life in Alabama, noting that she was not the first black secretary of state. That was her predecessor, Colin Powell.
She referenced the civil rights movement in pushing patience with developing democracies such as Afghanistan. She described news that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has agreed to a runoff after an election marred by security troubles and charges of fraud as encouraging. "Democracy takes time," she said.
Afghanistan's success is key, Rice said. She said the lesson taught by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was that problems caused by failed states now produce more dangerous threats to America's national security than those posed by successful, stable countries.
Rice also told the sold-out crowd that Union students are "privileged" to study at a Southern Baptist school "where faith and reason are not at war."
United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shares a laugh with Union University President Dr. David Dockey as she answers questions from students and faculty at the school on Tuesday, October 20, 2009.
On the way in to the Carl Perkins Civic Center, many who attended saw a man who flashed a sign protesting war as against Christian teachings.
The Rev. Elbon Kilpatrick, a 49-year-old Menonite minister, said he thinks it is inappropriate that a Christian college such as Union would present a speech by a former secretary of state whose administration waged war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"She (Rice) should be following Christ," Kilpatrick said.
Tim Ellsworth, a Union spokesman, said the school had no immediate comment on the protester.
United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks with students and faculty at Union University on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 before speaking later at the university's scholarship banquet at the Carl Perkins Civic Center.
Met with students
Rice met with a group of Union students on campus on Tuesday afternoon and answered their questions. A Jackson Sun reporter was told to leave a short question and answer session but was allowed to speak to the students involved in the session after Rice left. The session was photographed.
Katie Mohler, the secretary of Union's student government and a junior majoring in political science and history, said she enjoyed the opportunity to meet Rice on the afternoon before she had to turn in a paper for her foreign policy class.
Micah Roeder, who is vice president of Union's student government, said he asked Rice about her future political plans.
Rice told The Jackson Sun last week it is doubtful she will ever seek elected office and that she is happy teaching political science at Stanford University.
"She seemed pretty cool and very personable," said Roeder, a junior majoring in psychology and business management. "She made sure to repeat everybody's name."
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