Day: February 16, 2013

A Work Marked By Equality

A firm believer of the spirit of democracy found within the contours of the U.S. Constitution, Barbara Jordan aroused the conscience of a nation.  The Lyndon B. Johnson School Professor of Ethics and Political Values most known for her deep, jagged voice was born in the heat of Jim Crow.  Despite these prejudicial laws, Jordan sustained her love and faith for a democracy that did not express the same love and faith in return.  When the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution in 1787, people of African descent could not be citizens of the United States.  But Jordan knew full well that the saving grace about the dynamic document was that it was self-corrective.  Nearly a century after the draft of the Constitution, the protection of individual civil and political rights was extended to black Americans when the United States adopted the Fourteenth Amendment which nullified the Dred Scott decision (1857). Such rights found in the Constitution allowed Jordan to be a pioneer on many occasions.  Barbara Jordan was the first black American to serve in the Texas Senate since Reconstruction.  She was the first black American woman from the South to serve in the United States Congress; the first woman and first black American to give the keynote speech at a Democratic National Convention (1976); and the first black American woman interred in the Texas State Cemetery.  Still, despite...

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The Legacy of Barbara Jordan and the Promise of Civil Rights: Obtaining Equality of Outcomes

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. In that same year, Barbara Jordan lost her second election for the Texas House of Representatives. Two years later, court-enforced redistricting mandated in the Act paved the way for her to become the first African American to serve in the Texas Senate and later the first African American woman from the South to be elected to Congress.[1] Barbara Jordan is a symbol of the promise of civil rights – not just equality of opportunities, but also equality of outcomes. However, when we look at the broader picture, we are left wanting. When observing education, income and job attainment, the gap between whites and minorities remains alarmingly similar to what it was in 1964. Why haven't we seen the change that equal opportunity promised? In a 1965 commencement address at Howard University President Johnson said, “This is the next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity. We seek not just legal equity but human ability, not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.”[2] Barbara Jordan eloquently echoed these thoughts in her keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention. “We are a people in search of a national community, attempting to fulfill our national purpose, to...

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