Barbara Jordan, a Texas Congressional Democrat, was a powerful orator and a no-nonsense legislator whose political career was meteoric. She honed her vibrant, eloquent voice in brilliant dissertations before huge television audiences pleading that justice should not be exclusively for the elite and the powerful.
Lawyer, educator and politician who was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Jordan was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first Southern African American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives.
She was best known for her eloquent opening statement in 1974 at the House Judiciary Committee hearings during the impeachment process against President Richard Nixon.
In the impeachment hearings, she said, “My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total, and I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.”
She was the first African American and the first woman to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 1976, where she electrified delegates and held the nation watching television spellbound in her fiery address.
She was a member of the Texas Senate from 1966 to 1972 before being elected to the U.S. Congress in 1973.
Jordan developed multiple sclerosis in 1973. She died in 1996. She was 59.