Former Secretary of State visits Blytheville

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The city of Blytheville received a very special guest speaker on Thursday with Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State under George W. Bush Administration, is currently on book tour for her novel, "Extraordinary, Ordinary People."

With the help of the Blytheville Chamber of Commerce and That Book Store in Blytheville, Dr. Rice made a stop at the Ritz Civic Center.

Owner of That Book Store in Blytheville, Mary Gay Shipley, says it's great for the city to get someone of Rice's caliber to come and speak to local residents.

"It's really important for Blytheville. You'll find people in this audience, I don't know if you've talked to anybody or not, but they're from all over everywhere. And that's so important. And we've filled phone calls from people as far away as Little Rock who wanted to come."

Dr. Rice's current novel is about her life. "She was going to write a book about her experiences in the White House, but then she decided you've got to know who I am. So, this book is about her parents, her grandparents, and the opportunity she had growing up."

Shipley says they managed to get Dr. Rice to Blytheville through a program with the Chamber.

"When we have the opportunity to bring somebody to Blytheville like this, we partner with the Chamber in a series they call "Stardust on Blytheville". And all of these people have bought tickets and all of that money goes to our Dolly Parton Imagination Library and we're raising money to buy books for children."

Shipley says they are excited to be adding Rice to their "stardust" list.

"Well, we have done several of those. John Grisham was the first, Sam Hascal, Pat Conroy, George Hamilton and now, Condoleezza Rice. Liz Smith interviews them and it's just fabulous."

Shipley says they have a great turn out for events like this.

"People love to come and see these people. We love to have them. We think this is fun. You can sit in the audience for an hour or so and listen to and see them. If you stand in line, hopefully you can go and stand in front of the author for two seconds. So, we think this is a better way of doing things."

All the proceeds from the lecture with Rice went to the "Dolly Parton Imagination Library".

This program was started by Dolly Parton and provides enrolled children from the ages of birth to five years of age with books.

For more information about this event or That Book Store in Blytheville, log onto their website.

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