Monday, March 18, 2013

Women's History Month - Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan listening to debate on the impeachment of President Richard 
Nixon, photograph, July 25, 1974, courtesy

Barbara Jordan was the first black women to serve in the Texas Senate, and one of the first black women from the Deep South to serve in the House of Representatives. She was also the first Black state senator to chair a major committee, Labor and Management Relations. She was the first African American woman to give a keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, and holds the number five spot on the list of “Top 100 American Speeches of the 20th Century.”

She was the first freshman senator ever named to the Texas Legislative Council. Known as a champion for the poor, African Americans, and those who are disadvantaged by the system, she sponsored legislation to alleviate their circumstances, most notably the Workman’s Compensation Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Much of her other work was working to balance growing urban needs with the powerful rural interests that dominate her state.

Also, she was kind of a big deal on her debate team, and during her time at Texas Southern University, she defeated opponents from schools such as Yale and Brown and tying Harvard University. Being able to intelligently converse and interact with facts and opinions is an entirely useless and unnecessary talent (said no one ever), especially in Washington’s acerbic climate.

She was the governor of Texas (for a day) and a professor at Tuskegee Institute. She took over the South
and decided it wasn’t big enough. Even when she retired, she remained active in politics and made sure that her voice was heard.

Although, being a professor is something I would like to do, so maybe I’m heavily biased towards female academics. And the best part of all this is that she accomplished all these things even when she was discouraged from seeking the best schools (looking at you Harvard and University of Texas-Austin) because of racial policies, and losing races in 1962 and 1964 races before she was elected into the Texas House.

Although, being governor does sound pretty awesome, and if there is one thing we need in the American body politic right now, it would definitely be more strong women’s voices.

More on Barbara Jordan
Barbara Jordan on impeachment 

VOX Intern

(Lauren is writing about Women who ROCK in honor of Women's History Month.) 

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