Sunday, February 5, 2012

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight was the first African-American woman elected to Congress from a southern state. A leader of the Civil Rights movement, they were known as an outstanding orator and Constitutional scholar. They were also the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first southern black female elected to the United States House of Representatives. Today's Out Spotlight is Barbara Jordan.

Barbara Charline Jordan was born February 21, 1936 in Houston, Texas' Fifth Ward. The daughter of a Baptist minister; and a "domestic worker" Jordan attended Roberson Elementary School and Phyllis Wheatley High School, where in 1952 she graduated as an honor student.

Due to segregation, she did not attend The University of Texas at Austin and instead chose Texas Southern University, majoring in political science and history. A national champion debater, she defeated opponents from such schools as Yale and Brown and tied in a debate with Harvard University's team. Jordan graduated magna cum laude in 1956. She went on to attend Boston University School of Law, graduating with a J.D. in 1959.

Jordan went on to teach political science at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for a year. The next year she returned to Houston, TX, passing the bar and starting a private law practice.

Jordan campaigned unsuccessfully in 1962 and 1964 for the Texas House of Representatives. Her persistence paid won her a seat in the Texas Senate in 1966, becoming the first African American state senator since 1883 and the first black woman to serve in the Texas State Senate. Re-elected to a full term in 1968, she served until 1972. She was the first African-American female to serve as president pro tem of the state senate and served one day, June 10, 1972, as acting governor of Texas.

In 1972, she was elected to Congress, the first woman to represent Texas in the House in her own right (the first woman from Texas, Lera Thomas, had been elected after the death of her husband, Albert Thomas). She received extensive support from former President Lyndon B. Johnson, who helped her secure a position on the House Judiciary Committee.

Jordan came to national prominence during the Watergate Scandal in 1974 when, as a freshman member of the House Judiciary Committee, she made an eloquent speech on the Constitution which was nationally televised in prime time. Her speech set the stage for President Richard Nixon's resignation.

In 1976, she was mentioned as a possible running mate to Jimmy Carter, but became instead the first African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Her speech in New York that summer was ranked 5th in "Top 100 American Speeches of the 20th century" list and was considered by some historians to have been among the best convention keynote speeches in modern history.

Despite not being a candidate, Jordan received one delegate vote (0.03%) for President at the convention.

She 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. In 1992 returned to the Democratic National Convention as their keynote speaker.

The New York Times described her oratory as "Churchillian," and one writer suggested that her deep, Olympian sound could galvanize listeners "as though Winston Churchill had been reincarnated as a black woman from Texas." Jordan was named Best Living Orator by a professional speakers' organization. Texas columnist the late Molly Ivins said that Jordan would be the obvious choice in a casting call for the voice of God.

In 1994 and until her death in 1996, she chaired the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, which advocated increased restriction of immigration, called for all U.S. residents to carry a national identity card and increased penalties on employers that violated U.S. immigration regulations. Then-President Clinton endorsed the Jordan Commission's proposals. While she was Chair of the US Commission on Immigration Reform she argued that "it is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest.” Her stance on immigration is cited by opponents of current US immigration policy who cite her willingness to penalize employers who violate US immigration regulations, to tighten border security, and to oppose amnesty or any other pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and to broaden the grounds for the deportation of legal immigrants.

She also upported the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, legislation that required banks to lend and make services available to underserved poor and minority communities. She supported the renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and expansion of that act to cover language minorities. This extended protection to Hispanics in Texas and was opposed by Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe and Secretary of State Mark White.

In 1973, Jordan began to suffer from multiple sclerosis. She had difficulty climbing stairs, and she started using a cane and eventually a wheelchair. She kept the state of her health out of the press so well that in the KUT radio documentary Rediscovering Barbara Jordan, President Bill Clinton stated that he wanted to nominate Jordan for the United States Supreme Court, but by the time he could do so, Jordan's health problems prevented him from nominating her.

Jordan's partner of close to 30 years was Nancy Earl. She met Earl, an educational psychologist who would become an occasional speech writer, on a camping trip in the late 1960s. Jordan never publicly acknowledged her sexual orientation, but in her obituary, the Houston Chronicle mentioned her long relationship with Earl.

In the beginning of her political career, during her initial unsuccessful statewide races, advisers warned her to become more discreet and not bring any female partners on the campaign trail.

Jordan narrowly escaped death by drowning in July 1988 when Earl pulled her from their backyard swimming pool. Her death in 1996 was caused from complications of pneumonia.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton awarded Jordan the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

She was also elected to both the Texas and National Women's Hall of Fame and awarded the prestigious United States Military Academy's Sylvanus Thayer Award, becoming only the second female awardee.

Upon her death on January 17, 1996, Jordan lay in state at the LBJ Library on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. She was buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, and was the first black woman interred there. Her papers are housed at the Barbara Jordan Archives at Texas Southern University.

The main terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is named after her, as are an elementary school in Odessa, Texas, a middle school in Cibolo, Texas; Barbara Jordan High School in Houston. The Kaiser Family Foundation currently operates the Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars, a fellowship designed for people of color who are college juniors, seniors, and recent graduates as a summer experience working in a congressional office.

On March 27, 2000, a play on Jordan's life premiered at the Victory Garden Theater in Chicago, Illinois. Titled, "Voice of Good Hope", biographical story of Jordan's life played in theaters from San Francisco to New York.

On April 24, 2009, a Barbara Jordan statue was unveiled at the University of Texas at Austin, where Jordan taught at the time of her death. The Barbara Jordan statue campaign was paid for by a student fee increase approved by the University of Texas Board of Regents. The effort was originally spearheaded by the 2002-2003 Tappee class of the Texas Orange Jackets, the "oldest women's organization" at the University of Texas at Austin.

Many of Jordan's speeches have been collected in Barbara Jordan: Speaking the Truth with Eloquent Thunder."

In her namesake, the Jordan/Rustin Coalition (JRC) was created in California in 2000. This organization seeks to mobilize gay and lesbian African American to aid in the passage of marriage equality in the state of California. Along with Bayard Rustin, a civil rights leader and close confidante of Martin Luther King, Jr., Barbara Jordan is remembered for her advocacy of progressive politics. According to its website, "the mission [of the JRC] is to empower Black same-gender loving, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and families in Greater Los Angeles, to promote equal marriage rights and to advocate for fair treatment of everyone without regard to race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression."

At Jordan's funeral in 1996, President Clinton eulogized her: "Whenever she stood to speak, she jolted the nation's attention with her artful and articulate defense of the Constitution, the American Dream, and the common heritage and destiny we share, whether we like it or not. "

"My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution."

20 comments:

Special K said...

Less than an hour to the SuperBowl.

GO PATS!!!!!

twitter said...

Zoe Hodges
@Zoe_Hodgesx Zoe Hodges
........WITH JAKE GYLLENHAAL in a fencing outfit. Filmed for a music video. What the ACTUAL fuck, gotta love london life.....
3 hours ago via web

lol!! said...

@vanityman Gary Armstrong
waiting for the brokebackgammon movie starring jake gyllenhaal #superbowl
5 minutes ago via web

prairiegirl said...

Waiting for Maxwell again!! I had missed the very beginning. I hope they show it again - I want to see his lil' tummy!!

Special K said...

Sorry Maxwell. Move over for Mr. Quiggley

prairiegirl said...

Who's Mr. Quiggley? And I just missed Maxwell again!! grrrr!

Very good Out Spotlight, enjoyed it very much. I liked the quote on the inside wall of that little house.

destiny said...

Woo hoo!!!! Giants do it again.

Now if only my beloved Jets would have a good season.

destiny said...

I always liked and admired Barbara Jordan, nice to see a Spotlight on her.

destiny said...

Tom, a few weeks ago you brought up the topic of Matt Bomer not being seen in recent photos with his ring. Well, the ring is back, and there are some adorable pictures of him with his oldest son who was with him in Indianapolis for some of the Super Bowl festivities yesterday.

Matt and his son Kitt

You can only see the ring in the photos where he's dressed up, not in the blue uniform he was wearing to play touch football.

prairiegirl said...

Congratulations on New York's team, Dest!! Not a bad game.

And I saw Bomer on Just Jared and the title on the post mentioned his son. That's pretty darn cool.

Well, off to bed. Tomorrow is my aunt's cancer surgery - they're going to cut on the lung. I have the day off so I'll be joining in the waiting room ritual. The chemo/radiation had significantly shrunk the tumor although the surgeon said it had gotten attached to a rib now so they're going to have to remove part of the rib or something like that. He told her she was going to have a lot of pain and she told him as long as she had that little button with the drip, drip, it was okay.

So anyway, we all had our little Super Bowl party and we also had......TOSTADAS!!!!! Mmm mmm mmm mm mmm. You know, a secret to exceptional Mexican food I have concluded is this: you really need to freshly grate your cheese. None of that bagged, pre-shredded cheese. It's just not the same. It's taken forever to finally realize this.

Special K said...

Sad day in New England.

Catching Jake on Sesame Street as I was flipping through the channels this morning did help bring a smile though.

Special K said...

This is Mr. Quiggley.

Sketchers Superbowl Ad

Speaking of Superbowl ads, did anyone notice that Audi used Killing Moon as the song for their Vampire ad?

Audi Vampire

Not sure what I think about that. Killing Moon is so synonymous with Donnie Darko to see it now used in an ad distracts from how perfect it was for the movie.

One ad I have to say I love was Chevy Truck's Apocalypse ad. Why? Because after the end of world what survives (well besides Chevy Silverado trucks)- Barry Manilow and Twinkees. : D

Chevy Silverado

Special K said...

I thought Madonna did a great half time show. That's how you do a halftime show.

prairiegirl said...

Madonna was excellent. At 53 yrs old, she still has that undeniable "star" quality which ol' Tay, for all of her production line manufactured millions, just does not nor probably ever will, have.

Madonna's costumes were fantastic and brilliantly chosen to reflect at their best advantage against the darkened stadium and all of those glow lights from the fans.

All I ever wanted was to hear her sing some of her old stuff and she did with Like A Prayer.

People can criticize her for a lot of things but Madonna is still truly a star. Great show last night, I agree.

prairiegirl said...

Oh yeah the dog with the little red shoes who moonwalked across the finish line. LOL!!!!!! That was hilarious.

But he's still not as cute as my Maxwell, Special !!

Jersey Tom said...

Nobody did it like Jagger. Best Superbowl halftime ever. I got the moves lke Jagger.

Methodical Muser said...

Here you go, PG. I believe you get to see his little tummy:

Maxwell’s Street Luge

destiny said...

Madonna was great. Sometimes she can be kind of stiff and reserved while performing, but not last night. And I really liked the fact she did most of the songs, instead of those medleys that have become so popular. Very entertaining. I also like the new single.

I noticed the use of Killing Moons Special, and I am not happy about it. I really really hate it when a song that has a lot of meaning for me or that I really love gets used in a commercial. I don't mind it with pop and dance songs so much, but with a song like that, boo hiss. But I did think the commercial itself was funny.

And while there were a few others that made me smile, including the dog in the shoes and Maxwell (not so scary in a street luge), I thought most of the ads were kind of bland this year.

Methodical Muser said...

I can see where many viewers would have enjoyed Madonna's haltime performance, but she consistently seems wooden to me, including yesterday. Almost like she's moving in slow motion. I'm kind of a concept, thematic person so the way the set pieces were all over the place, bothered me as well. Including the ending message of World Peace, which granted I'm all for, but what the heck?

I guess given my performance tastes, I really liked U2's combination of humanistic symbolism in 2002. It came just four months after 9/11 and the way Bono and the guys tied all the set pieces into an uplifting, optimistic celebration of life and loss, without being preachy or cloying, was really impressive. I also loved Prince's performance. A real showman. His cover of "All Along the Watchtower" was just amazing.

Methodical Muser said...

Sorry about your Patriots, Special. But, after I had to endure a whole week of commentaters waxing on and on about how if Tom Brady won the Super Bowl on Sunday he would surpass Joe Montana as the greatest quarterback of all time, I had to root for NY.

In actuality, I had no dog in this hunt but with the Patriot loss, at least I won't have to be hearing that nonsense anymore. Montana still rules!