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The Honorable Norman Rice

Norman Blann Rice, born on May 4, 1943 in Denver, Colorado, was the 49th mayor of Seattle, Washington. Rice was Seattle’s first and only African American mayor. Rice is the youngest son of Irene Hazel Johnson (1913-1993) and Otha Patrick Rice (1916-1993). Rice’s father worked as a porter on the railroads and for the United States Postal Service. He was also the owner and operator of Rice’s Tap Room and Oven in Denver. Rice’s mother was a caterer and a bank clerk. Rice’s parents divorced when he was a teenager. His grandmother, Reverend Susie Whitman (1895-1989), Assistant Pastor at Seattle’s First A.M.E. Church, was one of the first western women ministers in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. After graduating from Denver’s Manual High School in 1961, Rice attended the University of Colorado at Boulder. Distressed by the segregated housing and meal facilities and frustrated by the work load, he dropped out in his second year and went to work. Between 1963 and 1969, Rice held jobs as a hospital orderly, a meter reader and an engineer’s assistant. Rice arrived in Seattle in 1969 and restarted his education at Highline Community College and received his A.A. degree in 1970. Then, he attended the University of Washington through the Economic Opportunity Program (EOP). By 1972, Rice had earned his B.A. degree in communications and in 1974 his M.A. degree in public administration at the University of Washington.

Before entering city government, Rice worked as a reporter at KOMO-TV News and KIXI Radio, served as Assistant Director of the Seattle Urban League, was Executive Assistant and Director of Government Services for the Puget Sound Council of Governments and was employed as the Manager of Corporate Contributions and Social Policy at Rainier National Bank. Rice was first elected to the Seattle City Council in 1978 and reelected in 1979, 1983 and 1987, serving eleven years in all. Rice served as Mayor of Seattle from 1990 to 1997. Because of his warm personality and easy smile, he was affectionately known as “Mayor Nice.” From 1995 to 1996, Mayor Rice served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, an association of more than a thousand of America’s largest cities.

After nineteen years of public service in Seattle city government, Rice served as president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle from 1998 to 2004. Rice was also Vice Chairman of Capital Access, LLC. Rice returned to academia in 2007 as a visiting professor at the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington, where he is to lead a series of public seminars on Civic Engagement for the 21st Century.

Rice married Constance Williams on February 15, 1973. They have one adult son, Mian Rice, and one grandchild, Sekoy Elliott Rice.

Rice was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 24, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.300

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/24/2007

Last Name

Rice

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Manual High School

University of Washington

Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington

Wyman Elementary School

Morey Middle School

University of Colorado Boulder

First Name

Norman

Birth City, State, Country

Denver

HM ID

RIC15

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Colorado

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

The Best Is Yet To Come.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Washington

Birth Date

5/4/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Seattle

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Beans (Red), Rice

Short Description

Mayor The Honorable Norman Rice (1943 - ) was the first African American elected as the mayor of Seattle, Washington. Rice also served eleven years on the Seattle City Council and as a visiting professor at the University of Washington.

Employment

Denver General Hospital

Public Service Company of Colorado

International Business Machines (IBM)

KIXI Radio

J.C. Penney Company

KOMO-TV

Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle

KCTS-TV

Puget Sound Council of Governments

Rainier National Bank

Seattle City Council

Seattle Office of the Mayor

Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Norman Rice's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Norman Rice lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Norman Rice describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Norman Rice remembers his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls the entrepreneurial spirit of the black community in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Norman Rice describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Norman Rice talks about his parents' restaurant

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Norman Rice describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Norman Rice describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls his home life

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Norman Rice describes his neighborhood in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Norman Rice describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls his early interests

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - The Honorable Norman Rice remembers the influence of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Norman Rice describes the importance of storytelling

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls the television programs of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Norman Rice remembers Wyman Elementary School in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls his early interest in politics

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Norman Rice describes Morey Junior High School in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Norman Rice remembers Manual High School in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Norman Rice remembers his parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Norman Rice describes his experiences at Manual High School

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls the aftermath of his parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls his experiences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls working at the Denver General Hospital in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Norman Rice remembers a patient at the Denver General Hospital in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls working for the Public Service Company of Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls working as an engineer's assistant at IBM

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Norman Rice reflects upon the death of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Norman Rice remembers University of Washington in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls his internship at KIXI Radio in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls working as a news editor at KOMO-TV in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Norman Rice describes his studies at the University of Washington's Graduate School of Public Affairs

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls becoming assistant director of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Norman Rice remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Norman Rice describes the civil rights issues in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls the protests at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Norman Rice remembers the Black Panther Party in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls his study for the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Norman Rice describes the 'Thursday Forum' on KCTS-TV in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls his role at the Puget Sound Council of Governments

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls his decision to run for the Seattle City Council

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Norman Rice describes his campaign for the Seattle City Council

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Norman Rice remembers his unsuccessful political campaigns

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls his election as the mayor of Seattle, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Norman Rice talks about mandatory busing in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls the support for his mayoral campaign in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Norman Rice recalls the Rainbow Coalition's support for his mayoral campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Norman Rice talks about his appeal to voters

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Norman Rice remembers his educational summit

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Norman Rice reflects upon his civic career

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Norman Rice reflects upon his educational achievements as mayor of Seattle, Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Norman Rice narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

7$3

DATitle
The Honorable Norman Rice recalls working as a news editor at KOMO-TV in Seattle, Washington
The Honorable Norman Rice remembers his educational summit
Transcript
I stayed out of work for about a quarter, which actually helped me 'cause it kept me on track with school [University of Washington, Seattle, Washington]. And then, I got a job at KOMO-TV [Seattle, Washington] writing news and editing film for the eleven o'clock news, and also keeping track of the film library, taking the news and, and documenting it. Had some amazing days when it used to have tape--makes you go look for tape--I, I mean, film, rather--and you go look for a roll to use, and the film would emulsify, you know what I mean, it just, oh, it was fun. But, anyway, I worked there, had a very interesting time to, uh, and learning experience also. The most profound time was when, at the time, there were a lot of the black contractors, and the whole issue was getting high about hiring blacks on construction type sites. And I remember once the--I looked at a show. I was editing the film, and they were showing the white contractors fighting black contractors, and I kept saying, "That's not the story." I kept saying, "Why don't you go down to the union hall and say, 'Why aren't you hiring African American, you know, workers?'" And the guy, who was writing the story said, "That's not the story." And it was kind of at that point, I realized that, you know, I don't think I'll be a reporter because that's what the editor is going to tell me, you know, that when the truth of what you want to get to as a reporter, may not ever manifest itself in, in a news story. And the news story's always going to be for this moment and this time.$$The sensational aspect (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yep, and unless you're in control, as the editor or you're--own the station, you're not going to make change. And I realized that if I was going to come into that station, I would either--gonna be spending all my time arguing with my colleagues for why they aren't telling the truth, or I need to do something else.$You were talking about the educational summit, then, the--now how, how soon after you were elected [mayor of Seattle, Washington] that you (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) The--we assembled, we, the summit came about--I, I took, like office in, how we say, '90 [1990], January '90 [1990]. The summit took place in April of '90 [1990]. We planned for, on a wonderful day in April, we assembled some two thousand people. What we did is we asked them to state for us, if you could look five years beyond today, what kind of, what would be a positive educational system? And we took those values that they used. We hooked up thirty-six sites with computers, inputted all their information into a single computer, calibrated that, and collated that, and came back the next day with, here's what we think you said. And then, we got validation that people agreed that's what they said. And then, we developed action plans where we got people involved on task forces to come up with three recommendations to achieve those goals. So, it was interactive, it was dynamic, it was a process that said, we asked you to tell us what you want. We came back and said, showed you that we had listened. And then, we asked you to come back, and be involved in the solution, rather than walking away. And that really set the tone for my administration on everything I did. And so, that was the civic engagement and the openness of the Rice [HistoryMaker Norman Rice] administration. And I think, made us so successful, so that by the time, I ran for reelection, I think I got elected with 60 something, plus percent.