New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - March 13, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas
Sunday, March 13, 2011 — Herald-Zeitung — Page 5A
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CC710Barbara Jordan’s faith in eventual justice endures today
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She served six years in the Texas Senate, where she charmed even some of the crusty old boars, as conservative as she was progressive.
Congressional redistricting in 1971 created a Houston congressional district that largely overlapped Jordan’s senate district. In 1972, she became the first black woman from the South ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Eighteen months later on the House Judiciary Committee, Jordan’s speech during its televised inquiry into the Watergate scandal brought her national attention.
In her precise, deep voice, Jordan noted that when the U.S. Constitution was written in 1787, "I was not included in that 'We, the people’” in its preamble. But amendment, interpretation and court decisions eventually included her, she said.
“My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total,” she continued, to the committee investigating the burglary and President
Richard Nixon's role in it, and the nation glued to TV sets. "And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution.”
In 1976, her keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention was ranked fifth in the top 100 speeches of the 20th Century.
By 1978, Jordan was beset by a neurological deterioration that limited her mobility. She did not seek re-election that year. When she left Congress in 1979, she returned to Texas to teach ethics at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
In 1992, she again delivered the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Her foundation's organizers, initially led by Austin attorney William B. Hilgers, her estate executor, decided the non-profit at first "will not fund academic research nor operate specific programs but rather bring together experts to work on campaigns aimed at overcoming injustice and
In January of 1967, an unusual and momentous event took place in Austin, Texas: Ms.
Barbara Iordan of Houston was sworn in as a member of the Texas Senate.
The fact that a woman was entering the 31-member Senate may not seem like such a big deal. After all,
Neville Colson of Navasota had served for years in the Senate, after several terms in the 150-member House.
But when Jordan took the oath, she became the only woman in either the House or Senate that year, but also the first African-American to serve in the Texas Senate since Reconstruction.
Barbara Iordan would have celebrated her 75th birthday on Feb. 21, but she died in 1996, a month before her 60th birthday. She was the first African-American woman buried in the Texas State Cemetery.
Fifteen years later, friends and admirers celebrated her birthday by starting a foundation in her name.
That Jordan was elected to the Senate at all reflected her faith in eventual justice.
A lawyer and daughter of a well-known preacher, Jordan had built name identification of her own. She lost races in 1962 and 1964 for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives. That was when representatives from Texas’ urban counties were still chosen in at-large elections. Candidates had to run county-wide, for designated seats.
She won a Senate seat in 1966, in the first election after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Texas’ legislative districts be re-drawn to reflect the court’s “one person, one vote” mandate. Districts had to be roughly equal in population.
Harris County, which contains Houston, had been limited to one senatorial district. Suddenly it had three. One took in much of Houston’s African-American population. Jordan won it.
Dave McNeely has covered Texas fjolitics and government since 1962.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Guest lineup for the Sunday TV news shows:
achieving national unity.” The foundation’s sub-title underlines its priorities: "For children, for justice, for freedom.” Part of the foundation’s work will aid development of master teachers.
The organizers hope that long after her death, the foundation can help advance the goals Jordan sought to achieve during her life.
• • • • •
The Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation’s website is at www.barbarajordanfree-domfondation.org.
One of the 21 initial members of the foundation’s board of trustees is Mary Beth Rogers, who wrote the most definitive biography of Jordan. Titled "Barbara Jordan: American Hero,” the book was pub-lished in 1998 by Bantam Press.
Rogers was former chief of staff for the late Democratic
Gov. Ann Richards, where Jordan was an adviser on ethics. Later Rogers was a teaching colleague of Jordan’s at the IJ3J School, and still later was president of Austin’s public television station, KLRU, for six years.
Another shorter book about Iordan, that includes recordings of some of her more notable speeches, is called "Barbara Jordan: Speaking the Truth with Eloquent Thunder.” It was assembled by Max Sherman, who served with Jordan in the Texas Senate. He later became Dean of the LBJ School, where he overlapped with Jordan and taught her ethics course after her death.
Another trustee, Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, an LBJ School and UT law school graduate, has for more than two decades represented roughly the same Senate district Jordan did.
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■ ABC’s “This Week* — To be
■ NBC's 'Meet the Press* —
Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-lnd.; Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
• • « • •
■ CBS' 'Face the Nation" — Sen.
Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Sen. Joe Lieberman, independent from Connecticut
■ CNN's "State of the Union* —
Sens. Dick Durbin, D-lll., and Jon Kyi, R-Ariz; Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif;
John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil
■ "Fox News Sunday" — Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.