Barbara Jordan’s Enduring Political Legacy

Stephen G. Hall SAVE THIS

(Barbara Jordan, photograph, approx. 1980-1989, University of North Texas Libraries, Texas Southern University).

My first memories of Barbara Jordan stem from an experience with my father while growing up in a working-class neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland in the mid-1970s. A political junkie, my father insisted that we watch the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. On this particular night, we settled in to watch the keynote address of the Democratic National Convention in New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1976.

Before the speech, he slapped his hands with glee and loudly proclaimed, “That Barbara Jordan is something else.” I turned my head away from my father’s outburst to look at the television and heard thunderous applause as the assembled throng rose to their feet. I saw a stately, dark-skinned African American woman being escorted to the podium. I watched eagerly as my Dad smiled broadly. In the most measured,…

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