Barbra Jordan attended Texas Southern University in 1956 and furthered her education at the Boston University Law School. She later returned to her home state of Texas to pursue her law practice. When first starting out Jordan worked out of her parent’s home, she became active in politics by campaigning for the Democratic presidential candidacy of John F. Kennedy and fellow Texan Lyndon B. Johnson. It was then that Jordan launched her bid for office in the Texas legislature. It took Jordan two running terms to make history and get her foot in the door for Texas politics. 

Life in Politics

Barbra took her seat in the Texas Legislature in 1966. As the first black woman, she did not receive the warmest of welcomes but was quick to win over some of her colleagues. Jordan wanted to help improve the lives of her constituents, helping them usher in the state’s first law regarding minimum wages. She also worked to create Texas’s Fair Employment Practices Commission. In 1972 she was voted in by her fellow lawmakers as president pro tempore of the state senate. She was the first African American woman to hold this prestigious title. 

She continued to advance her career by winning the election of the House of Representatives in 1972. While a member of the House Judiciary Committee, she was launched into the national spotlight during the Watergate scandal. During the crisis, she stood as a moral compass as she called for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon due to his involvement in the illegal enterprises. In a televised speech that she gave, she stated, “I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the constitution.” 

Later in Life

Over the years, Jordan never stepped away from the public life that she was leading. Later in life, she served as a special counsel on the ethos for Texas Governor Ann Richards in 1991. That following year, she took the stage to deliver a moving speech during the Democratic National Convention. It was then that her health started to decline, and she had to give her moving speech from a wheelchair. Even though her health was fading, she still gave a powerful, thoughtful, and moving speech with the same passion delivered 16 years prior. 

In 1994 President Clinton appointed Jordan to head up the commission on immigration reform. She was also honored by President Clinton, where she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom the same year. Two years later she passed away on January 17th, 1996 due to leukemia complications,