Rice, in Alabama, Draws Parallels for Democracy Everywhere

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in an unusual evocation on Friday of her own past to make a point about the contemporary world, visited the segregated school that she attended and the university where Gov. George Wallace barred the door to blacks, declaring that Alabama had progressed by "light years" since those days.

It was a dramatic setting for her message, repeated for months in Muslim countries and elsewhere, often in the face of considerable skepticism: it is possible for Iraq and other societies to throw off their legacies of violence and oppression to become viable democracies.

"Across the empire of Jim Crow, from upper Dixie to the lower Delta, the descendants of slaves shamed our nation with the power of righteousness, and redeemed America at last from its original sin of slavery," Ms. Rice said in a speech at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She was accompanied by the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw.

"By resolving the contradiction at the heart of our democracy, America finally found its voice as a true champion of democracy beyond its shores," Ms. Rice went on, criticizing skeptics who doubt that democracy is possible in the Muslim world for repeating the errors that whites had made about blacks in the civil rights struggles in the United States.

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