Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan
Rep. Barbara Jordan - Restoration.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 18th district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1979
Preceded byBob Price
Succeeded byMickey Leland
Member of the Texas Senate
from the 11th district
In office
January 10, 1967 – January 3, 1973
Preceded byBill Moore
Succeeded byChet Brooks
Personal details
BornBarbara Charline Jordan
(1936-02-21)February 21, 1936
Houston, Texas, U.S.
DiedJanuary 17, 1996(1996-01-17) (aged 59)
Austin, Texas, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Domestic partnerNancy Earl (late 1960s–1996)
EducationTexas Southern University (BA)
Boston University (LLB)

Barbara Charline Jordan (February 21, 1936 – January 17, 1996) was an American lawyer, educator[1] and politician who was 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 African-American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives.[2] She was best known for her eloquent opening statement[3] at the House Judiciary Committee hearings during the impeachment process against Richard Nixon, and as 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.[4] She was the first African-American woman to be buried in the Texas State Cemetery.[5][6]

Early life

Barbara Charline Jordan was born in Houston, Texas's Fourth Ward.[2] Jordan's childhood was centered on church life. Her mother was Arlyne Patten Jordan, a teacher in the church,[1][7] and her father was Benjamin Jordan, a Baptist preacher. Barbara Jordan was the youngest of 3 children,[1] with siblings Rosemary Jordan McGowan and Bennie Jordan Creswell (d. 2000). Jordan attended Roberson Elementary School.[7] She graduated from Phillis Wheatley High School in 1952 with honors.[1][7][8]

Jordan credited a speech she heard in her high school years by Edith S. Sampson with inspiring her to become a lawyer.[9] Because of segregation, she could not attend The University of Texas at Austin and instead chose Texas Southern University, an historically-black institution, majoring in political science and history. At Texas Southern University, Jordan was a national champion debater, defeating opponents from Yale and Brown and tying Harvard University.[7] She graduated magna cum laude in 1956.[7][8] At Texas Southern University, she pledged Delta Sigma Theta sorority.[7] She attended Boston University School of Law, graduating in 1959.[7][8]