Author: Kelly Ferneding

Barbara Jordan: Trying to Be Big

Barbara Jordan lived a life that was both inspiring and instructive. As a community we have much to gain from reflecting on her character and contributions to our public history. In word and action, she advocated for acceptance, compromise and the inclusion of all citizens in the democratic process — principles that are more relevant than ever in our current political climate. The annual Barbara Jordan Forum allows us to honor her legacy and come away strengthened by her example of lifelong dedication to fairness, acceptance and democracy. As the LBJ School kicks off Barbara Jordan Week, we invite you to familiarize yourself...

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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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