#WomensHistoryMonth: Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan is best known for her role as a civil rights leader and her trailblazing achievements as an African American woman in politics. She was a lawyer, educator, and the first African American congresswoman from the South. She garnered the national spotlight through her participation in the hearings of the House Judiciary Committee on the Watergate scandal.

Jordan was born in Houston and excelled academically, graduated magna cum laude from Texas Southern University and went on to attend Boston University Law School, where she was one of only two women to graduate. She felt called to enter politics and demonstrated her determination by not giving up despite her two unsuccessful bids to the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and 1964. She won in 1966 and became the first African-American state senator in Texas since 1883 and the first black woman to serve in that body.  

During her time in the legislature, she championed social equity and sponsored more than 70 bills. In 1972, Jordan made history again by being one of two African Americans elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She achieved widespread recognition for advocating legislation to improve the lives of minorities, the poor, and the disenfranchised. Jordan became a national figure through her commanding public speaking skills in advocating for President Richard Nixon's impeachment and the keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention. 

Jordan was a pioneer for women by unlocking many roles in the Texas legislature and the U.S. Congress that women had not previously filled. Her legacy demonstrates the inconceivable potential women have academically and the many benefits of having their voices brought to the table. She is known for her commitment to fairness, fighting for equality, and championing legislation protecting underrepresented populations in the U.S. 

One of Barbara’s most significant challenges was navigating prejudice as both an African American and a woman. Growing up in the segregated state of Texas, she faced racial discrimination and limited opportunities. Despite these challenges, she excelled in all aspects of her career and broke down many barriers for women. She inspires me and many others because of her unparalleled determination and strength to advocate for legislation to protect marginalized communities. She fearlessly worked to defend others and create positive change for all, and is an inspiration across the country and to our team at WPLN.