(1936-1996) Throughout her life, Barbara Jordan broke racial and gender barriers in the fight for civil rights. Due to segregation laws, she chose to study political science at Texas Southern University in lieu of attending the University of Texas at Austin. Jordan graduated with honors in 1956, and continued her education at Boston University School of Law.
Jordan won a seat in the Texas Senate in 1966 after campaigning for almost four years, becoming the first African American woman to serve in that body. In 1972, she became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, marking the first time that a black congresswoman was elected from the Deep South. In Congress, Jordan pushed to renew and expand the Voting Rights Act, as well as other legislation aimed at helping minorities. Jordan is remembered for her eloquent remarks at the 1976 Democratic National Convention, where she became the first woman and first African American to deliver the keynote speech. After retiring from politics in 1979, Jordan became an adjunct professor at the UT Austin Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. She passed away in 1996, and in 2009, a Barbara Jordan statue was unveiled at the UT campus.
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To see Barbara Jordan's keynote speech at the 1976 Democratic National Convention, click here.