Former United States Representative Barbara Jordan Abstract

FormerUnited States Representative Barbara Jordan


BarbaraJordan is one of the best known congresswomen that served in the U.S.House of Representatives. Born on 21stFebruary, 1936, in Houston, Barbara was an educator and a lawyer.Besides, she was the first African-American congresswoman to becomeelected to the Texas senate in 1966. The aim of this paper is todiscuss the biography of Barbara Jordan, which will provide detailsconcerning her early life and growing up in Texas, overview of heracademic career, and her career in the government.


Inher early life, Barbara Jordan worked exceedingly hard in order toaccomplish her dreams. She was brought up in humble black environs inHouston, Texas. Early in her life, she was highly encouraged by herparents to work hard in order to achieve academic excellence. Whilein High School, her gift for building arguments and language wasrealized and she became an award winner as an orator and debater(Rogers38). She proceeded with her studies at the Boston University Schoolof Law after her graduation from the Texas Southern University. Inthe law school, she was among the few blacks in the program. Afterearning her law degree from the university, Barbara Jordan returnedback to Texas and started her own law practice. Initially, she usedto work out of her father’s home she became hired as anadministrative aide to a county judge. However, it was not beforelong, when she started becoming active in politics (Holmes44). She campaigned for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, whichmarked her political turning point. Later, in 1962, Barbara Jordaninitiated her first ever bid to hold a public office, where shesought a place in the Texas legislature. She lost in her bid twicein 1962 and 1964.

Careerin the Government

AfterBarbara Jordan failed to win the seat for the Texas House ofRepresentatives in 1962 and 1964, she ran for the position of theTexas senate and won the elections. She became the first black statesenator in the United States since 1883 and the first black woman tobe elected in the body. Barbara Jordan was elected among other 30male White senators that received her unworriedly, but Jordan came towin them over as a successful legislature that pushed through Actsbringing to the establishment of the state’s initial minimum wagepolicy, antidiscrimination articles in business contracts, and thestate’s fair Employment Practices Commission (Ware36). Emanating from her leadership qualities that she had depictedbefore her peers, Barbara Jordan became elected by her peers in 1972to the position of the president of the Texas senate, which made herthe first black woman in the United States to chair a legislativebody. While acting as the chair to the Texas legislative body, shewas to play the role of acting governor, when both the lieutenantgovernor and the governor were not within the state. While practicingthis ceremonial role, she was the first black chief executive in theUnited States.

BarbaraJordan entered the political race, in 1971, seeking the TexasCongressional seat that encompassed downtown Houston. This districtcomprised of mostly African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans afterthe 1970 census. Barbara Jordan faced Curtis Graves in the 1972Democracy primary Curtis was a black state legislator that attackedJordan for being close to the whites. Despite the challenge ofanother black and the accusations made against her, she managed totake the primary with approximately 80% of the votes. In the generalelections, she defeated Paul Merritt by scooping 81% of the votes(Ware58). In this election, she emerged the first black in the 20thcentury to be voted to the Congress coming from the Deep South. Forthe following two campaign rounds, Barbara Jordan overpowered heropposition, and captured 85% of the entire votes in both elections.Her political philosophy was giving focus to local issues. Jordan wasexceedingly unwilling to commit herself entirely to any interestgroup. House women used to meet informally, but Barbara Jordan’sattendance to these meetings was anomalous and was not committed toissues that were discussed in such groups. She highly depictedprofessionalism in politics, which she claimed she was.

Inthe U.S. House and her Texas legislative career, Barbara Jordan madethe decision of pursuing power from the established system. One ofher initial moves in the Congress was establishing relations withTexas delegation members that had well-built institutionalconnections. Barbara Jordan’s attention of influencing inside theHouse became depicted by her sitting place in the House seatingarrangement. Although CBC members had a tradition of sitting to thefar east of the chamber, Barbara Jordan opted to sit near the centeraisle. Besides, Barbara Jordan believed that a significant committeeassignment, where she would be special due to her race and gender,would tend to amplify her influence (Holmes56). Therefore, she ignored opinions that she accept a position onthe Education and Labor Committee, and utilized her link with LyndonJohnson. From 1975 -1979, she became assigned to the committee thathelped on government Operations. As a member of the judiciaryCommittee, Barbara Jordan came to earn a national recognition duringthe impeachment of President Nixon. She delivered opening remarks,which tend to shake the committee room and the TV audience watchingthe proceedings. People were impressed by her remarks and knowledgeshe had concerning law. The impeachment hearings assisted in creatinga reputation for Barbara Jordan as a respected national politician.

BarbaraJordan’s oratorical talent continued to progress her nationalprofile. This is because she became recognized as the first blacksignificant speaker at a Democratic National Convention. Sheenergized the convention through her oratory when she appeared afterthere was a subdued speech of Senator Glenn (Ware62). Barbara Jordan campaigned broadly for Jimmy Carter, who defeatedPresident Ford in the elections. She aspired to be given the positionof the Attorney General by President Carter, but Carter later chosesomeone else after winning the elections. Barbara Jordan completedher political term in 1979 after announcing her decision not to seekre-election.

Careerin the Academics

BarbaraJordan, while acting as a teacher, she took time to educate futuregenerations of public officials and politicians at the University ofTexas. In 1982, she became the Lyndon Johnson Centennial Chair ofPublic Policy (Rogers74). Barbara Jordan also served as a special counsel on ethicsconcerns for Governor Ann Richards. In addition, Barbara Jordan actedas a political science teacher at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for aperiod of one year.


AfterBarbara Jordan retired from politics, she took part in delivering aspeech at the Democratic National Convention. Although, her healthhad become worse during this time, Barbara Jordan still could deliverher speech with power and with a thoughtful style as she used to doearlier. She later became appointed to position of chair of theCommission on Immigration Reform by president bill Clinton in 1994.In the same year, she was honored with the Presidential Medal ofFreedom. After two years, Barbara Jordan passed away. She died ofpneumonia, which emerged as a complication of battling with leukemia(Rogers88).


Inher bibliography, Barbara Jordan has been indicated as one of theAfrican-Americans that went for nothing else, but success in herpolitical life. From her early life, Barbara Jordan has beenindicated to show determination in achieving success. Early in herlife, she was highly encouraged by her parents to work hard in orderto achieve academic excellence. While in High School, her gift forbuilding arguments and language was realized and she became an awardwinner as an orator and debater. Her language and oratorical talentalso came to be manifested through the different debates that sheheld at the Democratic National Convention and during the impeachmentagainst President Nixon. Her political career commenced, when shefirst campaigned for John F. Kennedy. Although she vied twice withouta win, she later won Texas senate seat and became the first blackstate senator in the United States since 1883 and the first blackwoman to be elected in the body. After quitting the political career,Barbara Jordan became a teacher at the University of Texas. Later,Jordan died of pneumonia.


Holmes,Barbara A.&nbspAPrivate Woman in Public Spaces: Barbara Jordan`s Speeches on Ethics,Public Religion, and Law.Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2000. Print.

Rogers,Mary B.&nbspBarbaraJordan: American Hero.New York: Bantam Books, 2000.&nbspPrint.

Ware,Susan.&nbspNotableAmerican Women: 5.Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Pr, 2004. Print.