I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

Coming up, our weekly parenting conversation. How do you get that healthy meal on the table after everything else that you have to do? That's coming up in just a few minutes.

But, first, we continue our salute to Black History Month. We've invited members of the TELL ME MORE staff, some of our guests and our NPR colleagues to share stories about the figure or event from black history that they most admire.

Today we highlight a scholar, a musician and a diplomat.

Ms. MARY KATE CARY (Columnist, U.S. News and World Report): I'm Mary Kate Cary, columnist for U.S. News and World Report and a frequent contributor to TELL ME MORE's political chat segment. The person from black history I admire is Condoleezza Rice. Here she is playing the piano along with Yo Yo Ma on cello, leading to her once being called the most prominent amateur musician in the world.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. CARY: Condoleezza Rice grew up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1960s. In her recent book, "Extraordinary Ordinary Lives," she vividly recalls the violence of the Ku Klux Klan in the death of four girlfriends killed in the 16th Street Baptist church bombing.

That crime, she later said, was calculated to suck the hope out of young lives, to bury their aspirations. But that didn't happen to Condi Rice. Instead, she went on to become our first female national security adviser, our first female African-American secretary of State and the first female African-American and the youngest person ever named provost of Stanford University. I can picture her being our first female president someday too. Her extraordinary ordinary life is a role model for American women, including ones like me who are not African-American.

MARTIN: That was Mary Kate Cary, columnist for U.S. News and World Report who regularly contributes to our political chat, saluting her black history hero, Condoleezza Rice. To browse the full series of TELL ME MORE black history essays, please log on to NPR.org and in the search field, type black history heroes.

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