Brazile, Donna L. 1959-
Brazile, Donna L. 1959-
PERSONAL: Born December 15, 1959, in New Orleans, LA; daughter of Lionel (a janitor) and Jean (a domestic worker) Brazile. Education: Graduated from Louisiana State University, 1981.
ADDRESSES: Office—Brazile & Associates, P. O. Box 15369, Washington, DC 20003. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Worked on U.S. presidential campaigns of Jimmy Carter, 1976 and 1980, Jesse Jackson, 1984, and Walter Mondale, 1984; Dick Gephardt presidential campaign, national field director, 1987; Michael Dukakis presidential campaign, deputy national field director, 1988; Bill Clinton presidential campaigns, field director, 1992 and 1996; Al Gore presidential campaign, political director and deputy campaign manager, late 1990s, campaign manager, 1999-2000. Hands across America, regional director, 1985; National Political Congress of Black Women, founder and executive director, mid-1980s; Housing Now, national director, 1989; chief of staff and press secretary for Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, 1990-93; Brazile Associates, founder and managing director. James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, University of Maryland, instructor, 1996-99; Institute of Politics, Harvard University, fellow, 2001; Georgetown University women's studies program, lecturer. Democratic National Committee, at-large member and Voting Rights Institute chair. A View from the Hill, Radio One, Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD, host and producer; Inside Politics and American Morning, CNN, political commentator.
AWARDS, HONORS: Congressional Black Caucus Youth Award; National Women's Student Leadership Award; named one of Ebony magazine's Outstanding Young Achievers.
Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.
Roll Call newspaper, columnist; Ms. magazine, contributing writer.
SIDELIGHTS: Political consultant and college professor, Donna L. Brazile has become a familiar face on television news analysis programs. With her 2004 title, Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics, she also ventures into memoir and autobiography. The first African-American woman to head a presidential campaign when she ran Al Gore's unsuccessful 2000 bid for the White House, Brazile is, as noted by a contributor for NPR Online, "charismatic, ruthless, politically savvy, a veteran grassroots organizer, a loose cannon or a tenacious attack dog, depending on whether you talk to her fans or her critics." Brazile's book enlarges on and illuminates many of these claims.
Cooking with Grease, details Brazile's Louisiana origins—one of nine children of a janitor father and a mother who worked as a maid—and her journey from there to become Gore's campaign manager in 2000. As Booklist contributor Vanessa Bush noted, "Firmly rooted in her Louisiana roots, Brazile uses the state's spicy cooking and cuisine as a metaphor in this frank and fascinating look at her rise." Brazile's first campaign involvement was as a nine year old, when she pedaled door to door to back a city council candidate in Kenner, Louisiana, who promised to build a new playground. A graduate of Louisiana State University, where she helped to break down racial barriers, she went on to cut her teeth on campaigns from Jimmy Carter's runs for president in 1976 and 1980, to Jesse Jackson's unsuccessful bid in 1984 and Gore's in 2000. Instead of wasting time regretting her 2000 loss after popular vote-winner Gore failed to win the electoral college vote, Brazile became the head of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute, traveling across the country to help educate voters to their rights. She has also battled for civil rights and taught at some of the major universities in the United States.
A reviewer for Publishers Weekly observed that Brazile "carved out a place at the table with the primarily male, white, middle-aged political elite." The same contributor felt that readers will "get an invaluable glimpse of what it is like to be who she was, where she was, during one of American's most tumultuous political moments." Likewise, Bush felt that "readers will love this sparkling and passionate political memoir." Cynthia Harrison, writing in Library Journal, had further praise, calling the book an "engaging memoir by a consummate Washington insider," while a critic for Kirkus Reviews concluded that "Brazile's insider account will appeal to wonks, activists, and reformers." Rich Barlow, reviewing Cooking with Grease, in the Boston Globe, noted that Brazile's book also deals with topics apart from politics. "There's much joy in this book," Barlow wrote. "Brazile's love of family, food, and faith are endearing, her life story is inspiring, her anecdotes about political figures are entertaining."
Don Wycliff, writing in Commonweal, thought that Cooking with Grease, is "about the lessons of Bra-zile's own quite remarkable life," growing up in relative poverty, but struggling to better herself and to become involved in politics to better the conditions of others. A product of segregated schools, she learned to leave behind anger for a positive attitude toward solving social problems. "What is most remarkable about Brazile," Wycliff observed, "at least as she depicts herself, is the fundamental decency that she brings to what looks to have become a cutthroat enterprise."
Brazile founded a political consultancy firm, Brazile & Associates, in Washington, DC, helping Democratic and grassroots candidates. Despite the ups and downs of political life, she has remained upbeat. As she notes in her book, "The road toward victory is paved with stumbling blocks. I have spent my entire life removing barriers to participation, and I know the real obstacles that keep change from being made. The struggle for inclusion is hard, but the prizes are great."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Brazile, Donna, Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.
Newsmakers, Issue 1, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Notable Black American Women, Book 3, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.
Oblender, David G., editor, Contemporary Black Biography. Volume 24, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2000.
Black Issues Book Review, November-December, 2004, review of Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics, p. 33.
Booklist, May 15, 2004, Vanessa Bush, review of Cooking with Grease, p. 1579.
Boston Globe, September 2, 2004, Rich Barlow, review of Cooking with Grease, p. D5.
Campaigns & Elections, July, 2000, "Donna Brazile," p. 18.
Commonweal, August 13, 2004, Don Wycliff, review of Cooking with Grease, p. 33.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of Cooking with Grease, p. 370.
Library Journal, July, 2004, Cynthia Harrison, review of Cooking with Grease, p. 102.
People, July 12, 2004, "Donna Brazile: Sounds Off," p. 48.
Publishers Weekly, May 3, 2004, review of Cooking with Grease, p.180.
African-American Literature Book Club Web site, http://www.aalbc.com/ (December 13, 2004), review of Cooking with Grease.
Brazile & Associates Web site, http://www.brazileassociates.com/ (December 13, 2004).
Georgetown University Web site, http://www.georgetown.edu/ (June 10, 2004), "University News: Professor Pens Memoir of a Life in Politics."
Georgetown Women's Studies Program Web site, http://cfdev.georgetown.edu/ (December 13, 2004), "Donna Brazile."
Harvard University Gazette Online, http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/ (February 22, 2001), "IOP Names Fellows."
James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership Web site, http://www.academy.umd.edu/ (December 13, 2004), "Donna Brazile."
NPR Online, http://www.npr.org/ (May 2, 2001), "National Press Club: Donna Brazile."