A woman who has made her name very well known throughout history and American Government is the late Barbara Jordan. Barbara Charline Jordan, and attorney and American politician, was born on February 21, 1936 in Houston, Texas. Throughout her career she served as a congresswoman in the United States House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979, and as a professor at various universities and institutes. Jordan’s education began at Robertson elementary and Phillis Wheatley high school in Houston’s fifth ward.
While attending Wheatley, she was a member of the honor society and participated in debates and public speaking engagements. After graduating in the top 5% of her high school class, Barbara Jordan would go on to attend Texas Southern University despite hopes of attending the still segregated University of Texas at Austin. Barbara Jordan graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas Southern with a double major in political science and history. After contemplating of attending Harvard School of Law, Jordan went on to attend Boston University Law School where she graduated in 1959.
After she passed both Massachusetts and Texas bar examinations, Barbara Jordan, being a woman so eager to throw herself into her profession, set up a law practice in her parents’ kitchen until she could save up enough money to move her firm to the fifth ward, a primarily African American populated area of Houston in which Jordan began her education and career, in 1962 and 1964, Barbara Jordan campaigned for the Texas House of Representatives. In 1966, Jordan ran for the Texas Senate and won the Democratic Primary with over 60 percent of the votes.
Jordan’s Victory made her the first African American woman to serve in the Texas senate and the first African American elected to that body since 1883. She was re-elected to full in 1968 to 1972, when she became the first African American woman from a southern state to be elected to the United States House of Representatives. In 1974, Barbara Jordan gained attention from the nation for her service on the committee charged with hearing and evaluating the evidence bearing on the possible impeachment of then-President Nixon in what was called the “Watergate Scandal”.
At one point President Jimmy Carter expressed interest in making Jordan Attorney General as well as a U. N. Ambassador, but Jordan was deeply rooted in congress and was even thinking of challenging Sen. John Tower in a 1978 re-elect. Unfortunately, Jordan fell ill and became unable to carry out her decision and retired from politics all together. Having served as Professor of Political Science once before at the Tuskegee Institute, Jordan became a professor once again after her retirement from congress, this time as Professor of Public Affairs at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs.
Though she had returned to living as a “private citizen” Jordan would go on to maintain a very active stance within her community despite many unfortunate physical ailments. Sadly, Barbara Jordan passed away January 17, 1996. She would lie in state at University of Texas at Austin’s Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, and being that she was no stranger to firsts throughout her radiant career, even in her untimely passing; Jordan became the first African American woman interned at the Texas State Cemetery. Barbara Jordan
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