For children, for justice, for freedom
As an elected official, Barbara Jordan accomplished many firsts. She was the first African American to serve in the Texas Senate since Reconstruction (1966-72), the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress from the South (1972-78), and the first to deliver the keynote address at a national party convention (the Democratic Convention in 1976; she spoke at the convention again in 1992). Her riveting appearance in the Watergate hearings in 1974 helped revitalize many Americans' belief in the strength of the U.S. Constitution.
Teaching at University of Texas
After leaving the Congress, she taught at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin (1979-96). During this time, she also served as ethics counsel to Governor Ann Richards. "Ethical behavior means being honest, telling the truth, and doing what you said you were going to do," she said. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest award to a civilian, by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
Ms. Jordan died January 17, 1996, a month short of her 60th birthday. She was buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, the first African American woman to be interred there.
Learn More About Her Life
Ms. Jordan was born in Houston February 21, 1936. Several books chronicle her life and accomplishments.
> Barbara Jordan: African American Politician, by Joseph D. McNair (for youth ages 9-12)
> Barbara Jordan: American Hero by Mary Beth Rogers
> Barbara Jordan: Breaking the Barriers by Ann Fears Crawford
> Barbara Jordan: Getting Things Done by James Mendelsohn
> Barbara Jordan: Speaking the Truth with Eloquent Thunder, speeches assembled by Max Sherman
> Private Woman in Public Spaces: Barbara Jordan's Speeches on Ethics, Public Religion, and Law, assembled by Barbara Ann Holmes