By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
(NNPA) – Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state who counted as great friends to Colin Powell, the first Black secretary of state, and Condoleezza Rice, the first Black woman secretary of state, has died at 84.
Albright’s first notable foray into the U.S. political scene came when President Jimmy Carter tapped her as his national security counselor.
Born in Prague, Czechia, Albright stood just four feet and ten inches tall. But her legacy is as significant as any political figure.
Albright’s family escape the Nazis before arriving in America.
Albright would make her mark in the political sphere by advising Sen. Walter Mondale, Gov. Michael Dukakis, and President Bill Clinton.
Under Clinton, she became the nation’s United Nations representative and then secretary of state.
She cherished her kinship with Rice and Powell, both of whom acknowledged seeking her out for advice when they were cast in the role of secretary of state.
Following Powell’s death in 2021, Albright spoke of the bond between the two respected servants.
“He was truly an incomparable man in every way and incredibly smart, dedicated to this country,” Albright told NPR. “And turned out we were – got to be very, very good friends. And he was somebody that understood what our country needed and had served it with great honor.”
Albright often spoke of her concerns about divisions in America, particularly during the Donald Trump presidency.
In 2021, she spoke of being bothered by individuals who “know about where facts come from” but ignore them.
“In a (2018) book that I wrote is ‘Fascism: A Warning,’ I went back, and I actually looked at how fascism began, which it did with Mussolini,” Albright stated during a broadcast conversation with Rice.
“The best quote in the whole book comes from Mussolini, and he said, ‘if you pluck a chicken one feather at a time, nobody notices,’ and that is what I think is kind of happening in the United States,” she stated.
“The major thing Mussolini did was to identify with one group at the expense of another, who then became the scapegoats. That is what worries me now. We have been, I think in many respects, artificially divided to blame somebody else.
“I think we need to respect why people are coming from where they’re coming from and to make it a point to listen. And we’re not doing that enough. But the main issue now is, how are we getting our information?”
Albright reportedly died surrounded by her family. Her three daughters and grandchildren survive her. “As the first woman to serve as America’s top diplomat, Madeleine Albright helped bring peace to the Balkans, paved the way for progress in some of the most unstable corners of the world, and was a champion for democratic values. And as an immigrant herself, she brought a unique and important perspective to her trailblazing career,” former President Barack Obama stated.
One of my favorite stories: At a naturalization ceremony, an Ethiopian man came up to Madeleine and said, ‘Only in America could a refugee from Africa meet the Secretary of State.’ She replied, ‘Only in America could a refugee from Central Europe become Secretary of State.’
“It’s because of people like Madeleine that the story of America is, ultimately, one of hope – an upward journey. Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Albright family and everyone who knew and served with a truly remarkable woman.”