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Barbara Jordan

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Subject: Democratic Party presidential primaries, 1976, 1980 WTA Tour, Mickey Leland, National Women's Hall of Fame, Lea Antonoplis
Collection: 1936 Births, 1996 Deaths, 20Th-Century Lawyers, African-American Christians, African-American Feminists, African-American Members of the United States House of Representatives, African-American Politicians, African-American United States Presidential Candidates, African-American Women in Politics, American Anti–illegal Immigration Activists, American Feminists, American Women Lawyers, Baptist Feminists, Baptists from the United States, Boston University School of Law Alumni, Burials at Texas State Cemetery, Delta Sigma Theta Members, Democratic Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Female Members of the United States House of Representatives, Female United States Presidential Candidates, Lesbian Politicians, Lgbt African Americans, Lgbt Christians, Lgbt Members of the United States Congress, Lgbt State Legislators in Texas, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Texas, People from Houston, Texas, People with Multiple Sclerosis, Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients, Spingarn Medal Winners, Texas Democrats, Texas Southern University Alumni, Texas State Senators, United States Presidential Candidates, 1976, Women State Legislators in Texas
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Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 18th district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1979
Preceded by Bob Price
Succeeded by Mickey Leland
Member of the Texas Senate
from the 11th district
In office
Preceded by William T. "Bill" Moore
Succeeded by Chet Brooks
Personal details
Born Barbara Charline Jordan
(1936-02-21)February 21, 1936
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Died January 17, 1996(1996-01-17) (aged 59)
Austin, Texas, U.S.
Resting place Texas State Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Texas Southern University
Boston University
Profession Attorney
Religion Baptist

Barbara Charline Jordan (February 21, 1936 – January 17, 1996) was an American politician and a leader of the Civil Rights movement. A Democrat, she was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction, the first southern black female elected to the United States House of Representatives, and the first African-American woman to deliver a keynote address at a Democratic National Convention. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous other honors. She was a member of the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors from 1978 to 1980.[1] On her death, she became the first African-American woman to be buried in the Texas State Cemetery.[2]


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Legislation 2.1
  • Personal life 3
  • Recognition and legacy 4
    • Namesakes in Texas 4.1
    • Other honors 4.2
  • Gallery 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Barbara Charline Jordan was born in Houston, Texas's Fifth Ward.[3] Her parents were Benjamin Jordan, a Baptist minister; and Arlyne Jordan, a "domestic worker".[3] Jordan had two siblings, Rosemary Jordan McGowan and Bennie Jordan Creswell (d. 2000). Jordan attended Roberson Elementary School.[3] She graduated from Phillis Wheatley High School in 1952 as an honor student.[3][4]

Jordan credited a speech she heard in her high school years by Edith S. Sampson with inspiring her to become a lawyer.[5] Because of segregation, she did not attend The University of Texas at Austin and instead chose Texas Southern University, majoring in political science and history. Barbara was a national champion debater, defeating opponents from Yale and Brown and tying Harvard University.[3] She graduated magna cum laude in 1956.[3][4] At Texas Southern University, she pledged Delta Sigma Theta sorority.[3] She attended Boston University School of Law, graduating in 1959.[3][4]


Jordan taught political science at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for a year.[3] In 1960, she returned to Houston, passed the bar and started a private law practice.[3]

Jordan campaigned unsuccessfully in 1962 and 1964 for the Texas House of Representatives.[6] She won a seat in the Texas Senate in 1966, becoming the first African American state senator since 1883 and the first black woman to serve in that body.[6] Re-elected to a full term in the Texas Senate in 1968, she served until 1972. She was the first African-American female to serve as president pro tem of the state senate and served one day, June 10, 1972, as acting governor of Texas; albeit for one day, to date Jordan is the only African American woman to serve as governor of a state (excluding lieutenant governors).[7] During her time in the Texas Legislature Jordan sponsored or cosponsored some 70 bills.[7]

In 1972, she was elected to Congress, the first woman to represent Texas in the House in her own right. She received extensive support from former President Lyndon B. Johnson, who helped her secure a position on the House Judiciary Committee. In 1974, she made an influential televised speech before the House Judiciary Committee supporting the process of impeachment of Richard Nixon, Johnson's successor as President.[8] In 1975, she was appointed by Carl Albert, then Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

In 1976, Jordan, mentioned as a possible running mate to

Texas Senate
Preceded by
William T. "Bill" Moore (redistricting)
Texas State Senator
from District 11 (Houston)

Succeeded by
Chet Brooks
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bob Price (redistricting)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 18th congressional district

Succeeded by
Mickey Leland
Party political offices
Preceded by
Reubin Askew
Keynote Speaker of the Democratic National Convention
Along with John Glenn

Succeeded by
Mo Udall
Preceded by
Ann Richards
Keynote Speaker of the Democratic National Convention
Succeeded by
Evan Bayh
  • Barbara Jordan at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Jordan's Statement on the Articles of Impeachment During the Nixon Impeachment Hearings in Text and Audio from
  • Jordan's 1976 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address in Text and Audio from
  • Jordan's 1992 Democratic National Convention Address in Text and Audio from
  • Barbara Jordan, Governor of Texas for a day, program of ceremonies, June 10, 1972, hosted by the Portal to Texas History
  • Barbara Jordan – Speaking the Truth with Eloquent ThunderInterview with Max Sherman, editor of on
  • Oral History Interviews with Barbara Jordan, from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library
  • The Texas Experience - Barbara Jordan Presents Lyndon Baines Johnson , from the Texas Archive of the Moving Image
  • Special Collections, Texas Southern University

External links

  1. ^ The Peabody Awards - George Foster Peabody Awards Board Members
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Barbara Jordan at the Wayback Machine (archived July 16, 2011) at
  4. ^ a b c d e Profile: Barbara Jordan (1936–1996) at the Wayback Machine (archived November 14, 2008) at Human Rights Campaign
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d e
  7. ^ a b c Barbara Jordan Papers, Special Collections, Texas Southern University, October 15, 2015.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Cassidy, Peter. "We have your number: the push for a national ID card." The Progressive, December 1, 1994. "The U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, headed by widely respected former Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, turned in its long-awaited recommendations in September, and among them was one that could severely curb traditional American freedoms."
  12. ^ Pear, Robert. "Clinton Embraces a Proposal to Cut Immigration by a Third." The New York Times. Accessed May 13, 2008.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Rediscovering Barbara JordanTranscript of ,, February 8, 2006. Retrieved November 4, 2006.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Siegel, Naomi. "THEATER REVIEW; She Had a Voice That Resonates Still", The New York Times, November 24, 2002. Retrieved November 20, 2008.
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Office of the Governor - Greg Abbott: Committee on People with Disabilities - Barbara Jordan Media Awards
  27. ^ The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton Receives Barbara Jordan Public Private Leadership Award


See also


There is also the Barbara Jordan Public-Private Leadership Award.[27]

In 2012, Jordan was inducted into the Legacy Walk, an outdoor public display which celebrates LGBT history and people.[25] The Barbara Jordan Media Awards are given annually to media professionals and students who "have produced material for the public which accurately and positively reports on individuals with disabilities, using People First language and respectful depictions."[26]

In 2011, the Barbara Jordan Forever Stamp was issued. It is the 34th stamp in the Black Heritage series of U.S. stamps.[24]

In 2011, actor/playwright Jade Esteban Estrada portrayed Jordan in the solo musical comedy ICONS: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Vol. 5 which includes the song "Nancy's Eyes" sung by the character of Jordan with music and lyrics by Estrada.

On April 24, 2009, a Barbara Jordan statue was unveiled at the University of Texas at Austin, where Jordan taught at the time of her death. The Barbara Jordan statue campaign was paid for by a student fee increase approved by the University of Texas Board of Regents. The effort was originally spearheaded by the 2002–2003 Tappee class of the Texas Orange Jackets, the "oldest women's organization at the University" (of Texas at Austin).[23]

On March 27, 2000, a play based on Jordan's life premiered at the Victory Garden Theater in Chicago, Illinois.[21] Titled, "Voice of Good Hope", Kristine Thatcher's biographical evocation of Jordan's life played in theaters from San Francisco to New York.[22]

In 2000, the Jordan/Rustin Coalition (JRC) was created in Jordan's honor. The organization mobilized gay and lesbian African Americans to aid in the passage of marriage equality in the state of California. Along with Bayard Rustin, a civil rights leader and close confidante of Martin Luther King, Jr., Barbara Jordan is remembered for her advocacy of progressive politics. According to its website, "the mission [of the JRC] is to empower Black same-gender loving, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and families in Greater Los Angeles, to promote equal marriage rights and to advocate for fair treatment of everyone without regard to race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression."

Other honors

The main terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is named after Jordan, as well as a boulevard in central Austin. Several schools bear Jordan's name, including an elementary school in Odessa, Texas and Austin, Texas, Barbara Jordan Early College Prep School, a middle school in Cibolo, Texas, and Barbara Jordan High School in Houston. The Kaiser Family Foundation currently operates the Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars, a fellowship designed for people of color who are college juniors, seniors, and recent graduates as a summer experience working in a congressional office.

Namesakes in Texas

Her 1976 DNC keynote address was listed as #5 in American Rhetoric's Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century (listed by rank).[19]

Her 1974 statement on the articles of impeachment (regarding President Richard Nixon) was listed as #13 in American Rhetoric's Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century (listed by rank).[19][20]

Recognition and legacy

Jordan died at the age of 59 due to complications from pneumonia on January 17, 1996, in Austin.[16]

In 1988, Jordan nearly drowned in her backyard swimming pool while performing physical therapy, but she was saved by Earl who found her floating in the pool and revived her.[15]

Jordan's partner of approximately thirty years was Nancy Earl, an educational psychologist, whom she met on a camping trip in the late 1960s.[4][6] Earl acted as an occasional speech writer for Jordan, and later as a caregiver when Jordan began to suffer from multiple sclerosis in 1973. In the KUT radio documentary Rediscovering Barbara Jordan, President Bill Clinton stated that he wanted to nominate Jordan for the United States Supreme Court, but by the time he could do so, Jordan's health problems prevented him from nominating her.[14] Jordan later also suffered from leukemia.[4]

Personal life

Jordan supported the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, legislation that required banks to lend and make services available to underserved poor and minority communities. She supported the renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and expansion of that act to cover language minorities; this extended protection to Hispanics in Texas and was opposed by Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe and Secretary of State Mark White. She also authored an act that ended federal authorization of price fixing by manufacturers. During Jordan's tenure as a Congresswoman she sponsored or cosponsored over 300 bills or resolutions, several of which are still in effect today as law.[7]


In 1994 and until her death in 1996, Jordan chaired the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, which advocated increased restriction of immigration, called for all U.S. residents to carry a national identity card and increased penalties on employers that violated U.S. immigration regulations.[10][11] Then-President Clinton endorsed the Jordan Commission's proposals.[12] While she was Chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform she argued that "it is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest." Opponents of modern U.S. immigration policy have cited her willingness to penalize employers who violate U.S. immigration regulations, tighten border security, oppose amnesty or any other pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and broaden the grounds for the deportation of legal immigrants.[13]

Jordan and President Carter, ca. 1977. Photo by Dev O'Neill.

Jordan retired from politics in 1979 and became an adjunct professor teaching ethics at the University of Texas at Austin Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. She again was a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in 1992.

[9].Convention Despite not being a candidate, Jordan received one delegate vote (0.03%) for President at the [6].Democratic National Convention became instead the first African-American woman to deliver a keynote address at the [6]

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