Some of the most powerful relationships in politics and entertainment have paired Blacks and Whites together. These elite couplings have proven that race shouldn’t matter when it comes to sincere friendship, blazing new trails and making historical and monumental decisions.
George Bush, Condoleezza Rice
Several of the most fascinating power twosomes have emerged into the public eye from the highest post in the land–president of the United States. As they appeared more and more together in the news, former President George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice were described by an article in the Washington Post (“Transformed by her Bond with Bush,” Sept. 3, 2007) as a pair with a “unique closeness.”
There were rumors even, that Bush and Rice were lovers, interesting considering Bush’s reputation, as Kanye West put it, as someone who “doesn’t care about Black people.”
In his first term as President, Bush addressed the notion of their closeness publicly. “Miss Rice is like my sister,” he told foreign politicians, according to that same Washington Post article.
And once at a dinner party when Rice was National Security Adviser, she was heard referring to Bush as “my husband,” according to Rice’s profile on NNDB.com.
Frankly, the attraction of Bush and Rice was never easy to figure out … they both grew up in the South (Rice in Alabama, Bush in Texas), and other than being Republicans, that’s about where their similarities end. However, during Bush’s White House tenure, Rice was a constant presence. He sought out her advice on a myriad of things beyond national security. They obviously admired each other, and the bond was apparent.
Bill Clinton, Vernon Jordan
Former President Bill Clinton’s close friendship with Vernon Jordan began many years before Clinton took up residency in the White House.
Jordan and Clinton met in 1973 in Little Rock, Ark., at a meeting about jobs. Jordan was then president of the National Urban League and Clinton had just made a run at a Congressional seat.
“It was a meeting of considerable interest to him. Race has always been of great interest to him, and he showed up. He was there,” Jordan told “Frontline” on PBS during an interview in the late 1990s. “I knew in 1973 that some day this young, exciting Southerner and lawyer would run for President, and I thought he’d win, and I was right.”
Jordan went on to say that one of the things that attracted him to Clinton is how he had left Yale law school to come back to the South to teach and get involved. “I came back home for the same reason …
And that made a huge impression on me, and this friendship that has since blossomed … it germinated. It came together.”
Jordan continued: “So this common ground, this common purpose, I think without it being articulated, without it being talked about, without it being written down in some kind of a plan, just attracted this White guy and this Black guy to one another.”
Early on, Clinton was an avid golfer, and it didn’t take him long to get his friend to play, too. Jordan has characterized their golf days together as “the boys hanging out, doing what boys do on the golf course.” He also told “Frontline,” that the Clinton and Jordan families often share holiday dinners together.
Just a year ago, Jordan revealed to The Daily Beast (April 25, 2012) just how much he valued his friendship with Clinton. He also told the online newspaper “that by declining an official post in the Clinton administration after leading the president-elect’s transition team, I could be a better friend to the president.”
And their friendship endured the best of times, as well as the worst of times. When Republicans were trying to impeach Clinton, he and Jordan could often be seen playing golf.
Mary McLeod-Bethune, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
One was known as the First Lady of the White House and the other was known as the First Lady of the Struggle. Although the two were far apart in terms of upbringing, educator Mary McLeod-Bethune and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, ideologically, were as close as two peas in a pod.
McLeod-Bethune dedicated her life to improving the lives of African Americans through education and economic empowerment.
Roosevelt, too, was an advocate for education and equal rights. She is credited with bringing McLeod-Bethune to Washington, D.C., and had her appointed to the National Youth Administration (NYA). Roosevelt also made sure McLeod-Bethune had access to her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“As distinct as their backgrounds were, one thing the women had in common (besides wanting to better the world and being service-minded even as children) was that their mothers told them plainly that they were not great beauties,” commented Jada Bradley of the Examiner.com on February 23, 2010. Bottomline, however, the two came together as allies to each other’s causes as well as friends. “Besides being political allies, ER (Eleanor Roosevelt) and Bethune were very close personal friends. They met on a regular basis, traveled together and attended many of the same meetings and conferences. ER considered Bethune ‘a dear friend’ and the two women remained close until Bethune’s death,” according “The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project,” a series of papers published by George Washington University (2000) on the former first lady’s life.
Henry Ford, George Washington Carver
They were both inventors and innovators, and without a doubt, both had a major impact on the growth of the U.S. economy. And during their amazing lifetimes, they became close personal friends.
Like George Washington Carver, Henry Ford was interested in making products from things that came from the soil. Although Ford is best known for revolutionizing the auto industry, he also developed plastics, fabrics and other things from soybeans. That mutual interest is what brought these two historical icons together.
“Carver and Ford were both interested in this emerging science called chemurgy, which is about making industrial products from the soil,” says Suzanne Fischer of OnInnovation.com. “And Carver and Ford spent some time together and talked to each other.”
A friendship ensued that was deeper than most realized. “There was definitely some real affection between the two men, and they corresponded and really had these scientific principles in common,” adds Fischer.
Ford named a school after Carver in the Richmond Hill section of Savannah, Ga., and also built a replica of the cabin Carver was born in, which is now displayed at the Henry Ford Museum (according to www.azcmcc.org). In addition, Fischer reports that when Carver became ill, Ford paid to have an elevator installed in Carver’s home so that he could still go upstairs to his workshop.
Rosey Grier, the Kennedys
Most people remember Rosey Grier as a great football player. Nowadays, he is an ordained Christian minister who still does a lot of work in the community. His connection to the Kennedys began in the 1960s when he served as a bodyguard for the Kennedys during the 1968 presidential election. He was on the campaign trail with the family and established a bond that would last for decades.
Grier was guarding Ethel Kennedy at the time Bobby was assassinated, but he was the one who grabbed the gun and subdued the assassin, Sirhan Sirhan. When Bobby was lying in the hospital, just hours away from dying, Ethel called their friend in to say his farewell to Bobby.
In his autobiography, “Rosey, An Autobiography: The Gentle Giant,” Grier wrote that he grieved over Bobby for a long time. “For years, I agonized about what I could have done.”
Over the years, Grier maintained a cordial relationship with Ethel Kennedy, Bobby’s wife. When Grier’s son was born, he named him Roosevelt Kennedy Grier. And when Grier was working on projects to aid senior citizens, Ethel attended the “senior proms” Grier put together for low-income elderly.
Decades after the assassination, Grier still believes that Bobby would have had a positive impact on the world. “Well, at that time, there was a spirit, a spirit of togetherness in this country; of people helping one another; caring for one another; and not sitting on the fence, but getting involved and making the world a better place, and that’s what should be happening today,” he told San Wooding on June 5, 2008, at assistnews.net.
Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr.
It’s hard to imagine anyone more powerful in the entertainment world other than Frank Sinatra during his peak years. Movies, sold-out shows and movement among the elite, both inside and outside of the government, put “Ol’ Blue Eyes” on everyone’s A-list. And Sammy Davis Jr. was at his side in a lot of the hot spots that Sinatra frequented and where he performed.
Sinatra loved his friend and comrade in song. In fact, when Sinatra checked into major hotels on Miami Beach, for example, and Davis would be told, “We don’t allow Colored here,” Sinatra would step up and tell hotel management, “If he can’t stay here, I’m not staying here.”
Certainly, part of the attraction between the two to each other was their love of music. They also shared a sexy swagger when it came to performing … and the ladies. The friendship, though, was deeper than that. When Davis died in 1990, Sinatra told reporters, that Davis was “one of the finest human beings I’ve ever met.”
It was also reported that Sinatra had agreed to be best man at Davis’ wedding to White actress May Britt. But the wedding was canceled because of protests over the interracial romance, according to ww.pophistorydig.com. And, according to FindADeath.com, when Davis passed, Sinatra gave Davis’ widow Altovise $1 million to help with her husband’s massive debt to the IRS.
John Rich, Lil Jon
A bromance that has been kept quiet for a long time is the one between Country star John Rich and Hip Hop artist Lil Jon. It wasn’t until the two were on “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2011 that the six-year-old relationship came to light.
Lil Jon brought it up post “Celebrity Apprentice” in Atlanta when he was presenting his charity the money he had accumulated on the show. Then he confirmed the relationship on “Ellen DeGeneres.” And shortly after, Rich spilled the beans at a press conference.
Rich said that the unlikely duo had met at an awards show in 2005, and that launched their private mutual-admiration club. Lil Jon says he’s a fan of Rich’s Country style, and Rich says he likes Lil Jon’s music and “some of the crazy songs he has done.” They actually strategized together before the “Celebrity Apprentice” gig started.
And sure enough, they were the last two standing on their team. After the show aired, they went into the studio and Lil Jon guest starred on Rich’s song, “You Had Me From Hell No.”