Political Activist Barbara Jordan

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on January 2, 2005

What can you tell me about Barbara Jordan, who passed away Jan. 17, 1996?
-Ida M., Illinois

Her eloquence as keynote speaker at the 1976 Democratic National Convention made Jordan a nationwide political star. But her fellow Texans knew of her strength and passion for many years before then. Born in Houston, Jordan excelled in school, graduating from Texas Southern University and Boston University's law school. After passing the bar exam, she spent a year teaching at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, then returned to Houston to set up her own law practice. She first got involved in politics there, helping to register black voters before the 1960 presidential election, and eventually went on to become a state senator in Texas. In 1973, she was elected to the House of Representatives, and she made quite an impression during the 1974 Watergate hearings. She retired from politics in 1979 to teach. She delivered another keynote address at the 1992 Democratic Convention and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994. She died at age 59 from pneumonia.