Professor J's Place

28 November, 2007

Notable Texans part One

In an effort to comfort me, both Mrs. T and Melanie mentioned some Texans who have made the world a better place. I can only say, amen, sisters.

Here's one who makes me prouder than I can say.

"Who then will speak for America? Who then will speak for the common good?"

Barbara Jordon (1936-1996) was born in Houston Texas' West End. She became a state legislator in 1966, served as president of the "ledge," became a congresswoman, gained some notoriety during the Watergate hearings, and gave the key note address at the Democratic National Convention in 1976. I was a junior in High School at the time. I remember her voice. I remember her words. I remember that we hoped that Jimmy Carter would choose Jordon as his running mate. I remember people talking about how it might someday be possible for a woman to become president. I remember thinking that it might one day be possible for an African American to be president.

She served until 1979, when multiple sclerosis caused her to retire (although she kept her illness as secret as possible). She taught political science at the University of Texas after her retirement.

Jordon gave the key note at the 1992 convention as well, and was thought to be on the short list for a nomination to the Supreme Court, but Bill Clinton did not nominate her because of her poor health.

Jordon is remembered as a woman of great courage and conviction. She is also remembered as one of the best orators of the twentieth century. This link has the full text of her 1976 key note. I urge you to listen to it rather than read it. She was amazing.

Oh, and one more thing. In my little bit of research this morning, I found out that Jordon had a companion of over twenty years, Nancy Earl, who is often trivialized or totally ignored in biographies of the great woman.

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Blogger Julie Pippert said...


I profiled Jordan a while back, too.

Good pick and great post. :)

Using My Words

November 28, 2007 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Professor J said...

Julie, send me a link to your Jordon post? I'd love to read it.

November 28, 2007 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Tui said...

What a lady! I'd never heard of her before. Thanks for the history lesson, Prof! :)

Man, wouldn't that have been cool if Carter had her for VP?

I think America, alas, is still pretty afraid to have a woman in the White House, if she's not First Lady.

November 28, 2007 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger Mrs. G. said...

What a wonderful tribute to another kick ass woman in history. Doesn't the idea that we could have a woman or African American president in a matter of months just give you goose bumps? It does me.

I'm hoping you'll be paying tribute to to two of my other favorite: Ann Richards and Molly Ivans.

November 28, 2007 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger Professor J said...

I'm so glad to be able to introduce you to one of my favorite people. I hope you're wrong about our ability to elect someone who is not a white male--we'll see soon enough, I guess.

Mrs. G,
I've had goose bumps all year. I can't wait to see what happens. And Yes, Ann Richards and Molly Ivans are two of my texas goddesses and will be profiled--I promise.

November 28, 2007 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger BipolarLawyerCook said...

Ms. Jordan is a grad of my law school, and I had the privilege of seeing her speak at a graduation a few years before mine. She was eloquent and grand, and accompanied by her companion. They were very sweet.

November 28, 2007 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Simple Blog Writer said...

Great profile. I'm disappointed that I never heard of her until your post, but glad you told me about her. Maybe one day a woman, a black will get elected, and maybe one day we'll acknowledge the unmentioned lifelong companions as well.

November 28, 2007 at 11:27 PM  
Blogger Jozet at Halushki said...

I'd never heard of her, either. (Which goes to show that I should also be reading Julie's blog more carefully, too.)

In my Girl Scout troop, we're learning about women in history and today, and their personal and career choices. I've spoken with so many women today who have said that learning about some woman who stepped out from stereotypical gender roles and careers and made her own history, made all the difference in their lives as young girls, personally, professionally, and beyond. Even in the choice to follow some more typically and culturally gender-associated path, the knowledge that there is room for pushing the historically and culturally set boundaries made the choice their own and something beyond "this is what girls do...and don't do."

November 29, 2007 at 8:43 AM  
Anonymous heidi said...

the 'invisible' companion. Sounds like a 'Stubey' take on Willa Cather's partner . . . how times don't change...

Nice chatting today, kitten. big hug.

November 29, 2007 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Mary Alice said...

The companion who stood in the shadows...that fits many women who have been the supporters and confidants of great politicians through the years.

November 29, 2007 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Lisa Milton said...

I'm ashamed to admit I didn't know much about Jordan, until today. Thanks for the profile...

November 29, 2007 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger JCK said...

I enjoyed reading about Barbara Jordon. I'm going to check out her keynote - hopefully to listen to it.

November 30, 2007 at 12:26 AM  

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