Friday, July 29, 2011

Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan (1936 – 1996) was an American politician who was the first African-American elected to the Texas Senate after reconstruction and the first Southern black woman ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous other honors. On her death she became the first African-American woman to be interred in the Texas State Cemetery. The main terminal of Austin-Bergstrom Airport is named for her.

In 1972, she was elected to the United States House of Representatives, She was also the first woman to represent Texas in the House in her own. In 1974, she made an influential, televised speech before the House Judiciary Committee supporting the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

Jordan was mentioned as a possible running mate to Jimmy Carter in 1976 and that year she became the first African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. That speech was ranked 5th in "Top 100 American Speeches of the 20th century" list and was considered by many historians to have been the best convention keynote speech in modern history. Despite not being a candidate Jordan received one delegate vote for president at the convention.

Jordan's companion of close to 30 years was Nancy Earl. Jordan never publicly acknowledged her sexual orientation, but in her obituary, the Houston Chronicle mentioned her long relationship with Earl.
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.

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