Barbara Jordan: Remembering The Great-Estblackwoman Orator Of The 20th Century

Following our series of pieces celebrating the contributions of many remarkable Black Americans to Black History, we are going to talk about another outstanding woman who served the African American community in politics. Barbara Jordan was a staunch supporter, and leader, of the Civil Rights Movement. She was also a Democrat leader and renowned orator.

BARBARA JORDAN (1936-1996)

Jordan was born in Houston, TX. She took part in the struggle with a bright career in law and politics. She is best known as a speaker. She delivered the memorable opening statement in the Judiciary Committee proceedings during President Nixon’s impeachment and was the first Black woman keynote speaker at a DNC.

EARLY YEARS, YOUTH & EDUCATION

Jordan was born in a religious family with two siblings and regularly attended church in her early years. Her mother was a church teacher and father was a preacher. Her early education was standard and she proved to be a hardworking student. Jordan determined to become a lawyer during her years in high school. She could not attend her first choice for law education due to segregation. In university, she became an exemplary debater and won debate competitions against Ivy League schools. In one contest, she beat students from Brown and Yale and won after a tie with the par-ticipants from Harvard.

A SHINING CAREER IN LAW AND POLITICS

Jordan began her career in academia right after she graduated from college although she had not yet taken the bar exam. She kept her job until 1960 when she was ready to move back to Houston to take the bar and settle there. She wanted to start a career in politics and won a seat in the Senate for Texas in 1966 after two failed campaigns in previous years. This made her the first Black female Senator of the United States. She was elected for the Texas Senate for the next full term as well and actively participated in the proceedings of around 70 bills. She was given the duties of the acting Governor of Texas for one day in June 1972. She was an open and passionate advocate of equality and the Civil Rights Movement. Her publi-cations and speeches were often written around these subjects. For her remarkable services in education, law, politics, and legislation, she was honored numerous times with the highest of awards. She also received over 20 honorary degrees from various universities across the country. She retired from politics in 1979 to teaching and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994, two years before she passed away.

FAMOUS QUOTES

But this is the great danger America faces. That we will cease to be one nation and become instead a collection of interest groups: city against sub-urb, region against region, individual against individual. Each seeking to satisfy private wants.

What the people want is very simple – they want an America as good as its promised.

We are a party of innovation. We do not reject our traditions, but we are willing to adapt to changing circumstances, when change we must. We are willing to suffer the discomfort of change in order to achieve a better fu-ture. 

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