In an excerpt from her upcoming memoir ‘No Higher Honor,’ former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recounts the days after Hurricane Katrina, which decimated much of New Orleans and whose mishandling was later seen as a debacle for the Bush Administration.

After Rice’s infamous shoe-shopping excursion in New York, she recalls returning to her hotel room:

The airwaves were filled with devastating pictures from New Orleans. And the faces of most of the people in distress were black. I knew right away that I should never have left Washington. I called my chief of staff, Brian Gunderson. “I’m coming home,” I said.

“Yeah. You’d better do that,” he answered.

Then I called the President. “Mr. President, I’m coming back. I don’t know how much I can do, but we clearly have a race problem,” I said.

Rice, who grew up in racially-segregated Birmingham, Alabama, has previously said “the implication… that President Bush allowed this to happen because these people were black” made her angry, and says in her memoir that painting the former president as a racist was “unfair, cynical, and irresponsible.”

She also shoulders some of the blame for the public outcry herself. “I wasn’t just the secretary of state with responsibility for foreign affairs; I was the highest ranking black in the administration and a key advisor to the President,” she writes about the New York trip. “What had I been thinking?”

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