Barbara Charline Jordan (February 21, 1936-January 17, 1996): Lawyer, Educator, Civil Rights Activist, and First African American Congress Woman from the South


This is Barbara Charline Jordan. Barbara was born on February 21, 1936 in Houston, Texas to Benjamin Jordan, a Baptist minister and warehouse clerk and Arlyne Jordan, a housewife, maid, and church teacher. Her great-grandfather, Edward Patton, was one of the several Black representatives to serve in the Texas state legislature during Reconstruction. She grew up in a poor Black neighborhood, but her parents encouraged her to strive for academic excellence. Barbara’s excellent language and argument building skills were discovered while she was still in high school. She won many awards for her speeches and debates.

In 1956, Barbara graduated cum laude from Texas Southern University and continued her education by attending Boston University Law School.  After earning her law degree (she was one of two Black Women to earn a law degree in her class) and passing the Massachusetts and Texas state bars, she established her practice in Houston’s Fifth Ward. Soon Barbara became involved in politics campaigning for the JFK and LBJ Democratic Presidential Ticket. Barbara launched her first bid to run for office in 1962 for a seat in the Texas Legislature. It took three tries until she would make history as the 1st Black Woman Congresswoman from the South. Finally, Congresswoman Jordan won the seat she was seeking in 1966 in which she initially did not get a warm welcome from her colleagues, but some of them eventually came around. Congresswoman Jordan helped push the state’s first law on minimum wage and helped create the Texas Fair Employment Practices Commission. She was voted in by her fellow legislatures in 1972 as President pro tempore of the state senate in which she made history again as the 1st African-American Woman to hold this post in the state of Texas.


Congresswoman Jordan won the election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972. She became a member of the House Judiciary Committee thrusting her into the national spotlight during Watergate Scandal. According to

Jordan stood as a moral compass during this time of crisis, calling for the impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon for his involvement in this illegal political enterprise. “I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution,” she said in a nationally televised speech during the proceedings.

Once again, her excellent oratorical skills captured the public’s attention at the 1976 Democratic National Convention in which she made the keynote address. She told the audience:

 “My presence here . . . is one additional bit of evidence that the American dream need not forever be deferred.”

She was hoping that she would secure the position of U.S. Attorney General within the Carter Administration after Carter’s election, but someone else was given the position. Congresswoman Jordan ended her last term in 1979. It was thought by many that she would go further in her career, but it was disclosed that she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She reflected upon her life and political career in her biography Barbara Jordan: A Self Portrait (1979). Former Congresswoman Jordan wanted to educate future politicians and accepted a professorship at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1982, she became the Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Chair for Public Policy.


While educating the former Congresswoman continued serving the public. In 1991, she served as a special ethics counsel for Governor Ann Richards. In 1992, former Congresswoman Jordan took to the stage again at the DNC to deliver a speech this time from her wheelchair since her health has since declined. Yet, she still rallied the Democratic party with her powerful oratorical style as she did in 1976.

In 1994, former President Bill Clinton appointed her to head the Committee of Immigration Reform and honored her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. On January 17, 1996, the former Congresswoman passed away from pneumonia, a complication she developed while battling leukemia.

According to

The nation mourned the loss of a great pioneer who shaped the political landscape with her dedication to the Constitution, her commitment to ethics and her impressive oratory skills. “There was simply something about her that made you proud to be a part of the country that produced her,” said former Texas governor Ann Richards in remembrance of her colleague. President Clinton said, “Barbara always stirred our national conscience.”

Statue of Barbara Jordan, University of Texas, Austin
Statue of Barbara Jordan, University of Texas, Austin

As of March 12, 2012, according to Entertainment Fuse it has been rumored that actress Viola Davis may play the pioneering congresswoman in an upcoming biopic produced by herself, directed by Paris Barclay and her husband Julius Tennon.

I salute this AMAZING HER-story making sista!


“Barbara C. Jordan”. History., 2015. Web 07 Apr. 2014 Retrieved from

“Barbara Jordan.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Stark, J. (March 12, 2012). “Rumor Has It” Retrieved from


7 thoughts on “Barbara Charline Jordan (February 21, 1936-January 17, 1996): Lawyer, Educator, Civil Rights Activist, and First African American Congress Woman from the South

  1. I don’t want to worry you about something that I may could find the directions for myself, but how do you post videos? I looked in my wp section and found something but the directions were pretty vague to me and I don’t know where to retrieve it? *shrugs*


    1. It’s cool. I don’t mind telling you.
      1. Go to the video clip(Youtube) you want and copy it.
      2. Go to your blog and click on “Create New Post”
      3. There’s a section called Media Link. Click on that.
      4. The section called “Insert from URL” is where you paste the link in the box.
      5.The bottom right corner is a section “Insert into Post”. Click on that.
      6. Your video should appear on your pos.
      No need to thank me. 🙂


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