Barbara Jordan (21 Feb 1936 – 17 Jan 1996) was the leader of the Civil Rights Movement and an American politician. She was not just a democrat but the first African-American, man or woman, to be elected post Reconstruction to the Texas Senate. On her death, Jordan became the first African-American woman to have ever been buried in the Texas State Cemetery.
Jordan was born in Houston, Texas and had a conventional background; her mother worked as a domestic worker and her father was a Baptist Minister. As a child, she attended Roberson Elementary School and she later graduated from Wheatley High School in 1952. She would later cite a speech she had heard as a child that encouraged her to become a lawyer. Jordan decided to opt for Texas Southern University as most other colleges at the time had put a ban on black-white integration in college. Hence she majored in political science and history at Texas Southern.
Her interest in political science made her decide she wanted to teach the same subject and she thence became a college teacher at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. In 1960, Jordan passed the bar and returned to Houston where she started her own private law practice. In the 1960s, Barbara Jordan began to campaign for the Texas House of Representatives and she was successful; winning a seat in the Texas Senate in 1966, Jordan became the first black woman to serve in the house. Jordan also had the honor of serving as president pro tempore of the state senate and on the June 10, 1972 she even acted as governor of Texas.
In 1972, Jordan was elected to Congress and acted as the first woman to ever serve Texas in her own right. She also received a lot of support from the former president of the United States; Mr. Lyndon B. Johnson and in 1974 Jordan made a televised speech before the House Judiciary Committee. In 1976, Barbara Jordan also delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention which was a first yet again for an African-American woman. In the late 1980s, she began to suffer from Multiple Sclerosis, and in 1988 she nearly drowned while swimming in her backyard pool. President Bill Clinton even wanted to nominate Jordan for the US Supreme Court however as her health rapidly deteriorated, Jordan had to refuse this honor. She passed away on the January 17, 1996 in Austin due to multiple health complications.
In 2000, The Jordan/Rustin Coalition was created in memory of Barbara Jordan. In the wake of the 21st century, the coalition helped mobilize the marriage equality and status that gay people enjoy in the United States today. Along with Bayard Rustin who was also a campaigner for homosexual rights, Jordan is remembered to this day for actively campaigning for the equality of the sexes and for her desire for progressive politics.