October 15th, 2010
12:13 PM ET
4 years ago

Wolf's pick: Condi, the Cleveland Browns and the N-word

Editor's warning: This report about former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's book about growing up in the segregated South contains language you may find offensive, including the N-word. Rice explained she had to use the word in an interview with CNN to accurately portray what happened at a football game in 1964. Should you continue reading, we must warn you that we have left her quote intact and have included the word in the story.

Washington (CNN) – It's not every day that you hear the former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, say the N-word. But she did during a taped interview with me that will air today in The Situation Room (5-7 p.m. ET).

We had a lengthy discussion about her new book, "Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family." It's the very powerful and moving story of her growing up in the segregated South – a story that's still hard to believe because it took place not all that long ago in the United States.

Eventually, I brought up her love of NFL football. Over the years, in conversations with me, she's made no secret of her dream of one day becoming the NFL commissioner.

I asked her to explain why - to this very day - she's a Cleveland Browns fan.

It's simple, she said. A lot of the NFL teams still didn't have black players in the early 1960s. The Browns had the great running back Jim Brown. In the book, she writes: "Though Washington, D.C., was geographically the closest to us, my father hated the Redskins for their racist policies. They couldn't be our team."

The Redskins were the last NFL team to have a black player.

A year after the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed, she and her mother went to an NFL game in Birmingham between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings. It was the first time they could even enter the once all-white stadium.

In the interview with me, she recalled that she and her mom got all dressed up with new suits. They were so excited, especially when former Olympic gold medal winner Bob Hayes, playing for the Cowboys, scored a touchdown on the opening kickoff.

She then warned me that in telling what happened next, she would "have to use the word." She recalled that a white man sitting behind them said something along the lines of: "Oooh-wee. Look at the nigger run!"

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Ben Ben

    Must have been Bush stitting behind her.

    October 15, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  2. Fair is Fair

    America has come a long way since then. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go.

    October 15, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. beevee

    Surprised. she is still a republican.

    October 15, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. 18 Days until Socialism dies in the United States

    Editor's warning: This report about former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's book about growing up in the segregated South contains language you may find offensive, including the N-word. Rice explained she had to use the word in an interview with CNN to accurately portray what happened at a football game in 1964. Should you continue reading, we must warn you that we have left her quote intact and have included the word in the story.
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    Yes, the epitomy of political correctness CNN. I'm sure the people reading this would have just keeled over from shock and revulsion at the sight of the "N-word". The word "Obama" offends me. Could you please issue the same warning on all stories containing the word?!! Oivay...

    October 15, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. sonny chapman

    Condi DID grow up in the segregated South, as I did also(on the white side of the tracks). And her ability to overcome her many handicaps is admirable. She fails to recognize that she is the exception & that she had a strong family support system & that she was extremely gifted, intellect & musically, by her Creator. She represents the one in 500,000 black kids from the Old South who made it out of what's now called The 'Hood. Conservatives like to hold Condi & Cloin Powell up as examples for ending Affirmative Action or trying to level the playing field, but 1 in 500,000 is not real good odds. If GOVERNMENT can increase those odds to 1 in 100,000 or 50,000 or 10,000. aren't we all better off as a country ?

    October 15, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. Doug

    I don't always agree with Ms. Rice, but she at least is a civilized, intelligent person. A rarity in the Bush White House, but hopefully it the type face of the Republican party to come not the Tea Party people.

    October 15, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. Fourjz

    What is this obsession with W. ? He's relaxing down in Crawford,TX not criticizing anyone past,present,or future.And W.is all that is on your mind,while the honorable&strong C.Rice tells her story.

    October 15, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. Truth

    I must say that absolutely nothing has really changed since that day to today. The only diffenrence really is that you have the hyprocritical racist that uses FOX as their daily guide and hide constantly behind their keyboard with the same racists language. My only question to Condi is, you are as educated as they come, but yet you have spend the past couple years marching to Bush beat as oppose to actually making a difference,not only the Black community but in the world in general. Put that Book you are trying to sell to the side and think about making a difference in someonelse life. You heard that man make that statement back in the sixties, that was all I heard from bush for eight long years when he was in office.

    October 15, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  9. Dave, Central Illinois

    She pulled herself up by her bootstraps and she made something of herself with out laynig back and blaming others for her obstacles. That is why she is a Republican.

    October 15, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  10. Truth

    Try to formulate your own thouhts there Mr. I am Rpublican. Stop using those one liners from FOX

    October 15, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Kristi

    I hear worse from blacks now in the stands at games. Every derogatory term you can imagine will come out of their mouths directed towards other blacks, whites, hispanics, women, gays, etc.... If I even said something half as bad I would be asked to leave and charged with a hate crime. Double standards are alive and well in obama's America.

    October 15, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. Stacey

    "She pulled herself up by her bootstraps and she made something of herself with out laynig back and blaming others for her obstacles. That is why she is a Republican."

    LOL! Typical republican racist bullcrap!

    October 15, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  13. T'SAH from Virginia

    I commend Condoleezza on her courage and I respect her to the FULLEST!!! She is someone I would want my CHILDREN and GRANDCHILDREN to look up to – no matter what her policies were under Bush!!! She shares the history of my life and she lived my story – I am truly PROUD of HER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The haters are going to BREAK LOOSE and not even think about what they are saying!! It does not matter – Condoleezza heard it before!! I will be purchasing her book and hopefully attend one of her book signing events!!!

    This is T'SAH from Virginia and I approve this message!!!

    October 15, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  14. Whatever

    My parents made a better life for me and I don't blame others for the obstacles I face – - I'm NOT a Republician. Not blaming others is an American way. Hate it when Republicians think they have the corner market on stuff like that.. .what a joke!!! If that were the case, would the Tea Party exist?? At least she admits there were mistakes made by the administration. DUH! Bout time some formally said it. Hey Condi when are segments from your former boss' book being released?! I'm sure most of the repubs have asked him not to realize anything until after the

    October 15, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Ya, and we were better off when thay were running. How is she not in jail with bush?

    October 15, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "She pulled herself up by her bootstraps and she made something of herself with out laynig back and blaming others for her obstacles. That is why she is a Republican."

    Riiiiiiight, and the refusal to ever, NOT EVEN ONCE (despite Mushmouth's smokescreen announcement that the GOP "is done apologizing" last year), acknowledge that greed-is-good, trickle-down, randian, deregulatory, free-market voodo-magic economic theory(read: big fat lie to help corporate America take over and reduce the labor class to indentured servitude), as brought to an extreme by Bush and the GOP under him from 2000-2008, is what has landed the middle and lower classes in an economic compost heap while the already wealthy have continued to get more and more wealthy and the wealth gap continues to grow exponentially...all while blaming Obama and the Dems as though they are 100% responsible for the current state of the economy, financial industry, corporate and manufacturing sectors and myriad other problems we're facing...yes, THAT...THAT of all things is, in fact, the epitomic example of Republicans taking resposibility for themselves and their actions and not blaming others for our problems. Yep. Why didn't the rest of see it? You've really hit the nail on the head there pal and opened up everyone's eyes. I'm sure every single person out there who reads your post is now going to run blindly to the polls and mindless check off any box with an "R' next to it. You should obviously be teaching policy and politics at the Kennedy School or some similarly high-ranked Ivy-quality think tank.

    October 15, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  17. Dale schory

    When we get to the point when we are so politically correct that we can't use a 'word' because it's a word of hate,how can we tell our children what hate is?

    October 15, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  18. blkmale

    My question is where was the majority voices who should have been able to shout down the hate not to do so is considered condoning it.

    October 15, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. blaqmajik

    okay...if you go to Dallas stadium today you will hear the same thing....whats the point.

    October 15, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. barry

    She is a great lady.

    October 15, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Debby

    Hey Ben, Ben you moron Bush is the one who gave Rice her job which she did admirably.

    October 15, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. Jack

    I admire Condi's personal success but I'm afraid she was dead wrong on Iraq. True, Hussein was thorn in our side, but her was a much bigger thorn in the side of Iran. Because we deposed Hussein we now must face Iran head on. In Condi's et at siimplistic thinking they allowed passion to supplant strategic diplomacy. We could have and should have used Iraq as a foil against Iran. Iran and Iraq were the biterrest of enemies. Now we may lose Iraq to the Iranians and the Shiite Muslims. Not so good for us. Condi may have gotten a doctorate in Russian Studies but she knew little about the world of the Middle East, or she was manipulated. We are the worse for it.

    October 15, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  23. joe

    when is everyone going to leav bush alone he made mistakes but so have 43 other presidents none of them have gotten everything right and instead of talking about bush two years after his presidency lets talk about the current presidents socialist agenda that is running our country into the ground at least when bush was president i could find a job open ur eyes america bush is not the problem obama is

    October 15, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Augsbee

    My black relatives are Democrats and they are not sensitive of the "N" word, I hear them use it all the time in good and bad ways as do their friends.
    I think Democrats & Republicans use the "N" word in which ever way it benefits them as needed, both sides are equally hypocritical racists. These "Warning" is just as hypocritical of CNN, Fox, MSNBC. Blacks in the real world use "N" and could care less, only when on TV do they say they care.

    October 15, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  25. Andy

    Dear " truth"
    When people like you say nothing has changed since 1965, it just reveals how completely distorted the modern civil rights movement has become. In 1968 Martin Luther King was assassinated. In 2008 Barack Obama was elected President in a country that is still majority white. If you don't think things have changed in the intervening 40 years there is nothing that will satisfy you. Yes, there is still work to be done but your comments are as much of an obstacle as those who say we live in a "post racial" era. When you say foolish things like this you make yourself look like an angry malcontent.

    October 15, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
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