Barbara Jordan honored on her birthday with interactive exhibit

Posted on Thursday, February 18, 2016

AUSTIN – The Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation today announced that an interactive exhibit of Jordan’s life will be on display on the ground floor of the Texas Capitol Rotunda from Monday, Feb. 22 to Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016.  The exhibit is free and open to the public. Media are invited to a special preview with Rose Mary McGowan, Jordan’s sister,  and Janice Peyton, Texas Southern University Librarian, from 1:30--‐3:00 p.m. on Monday, February 22. On February 21, Jordan would have celebrated her 80th birthday. February,which is Black History Month, also features Barbara Jordan Freedom Week, as designated by the 82nd Texas Legislature.

“Celebrating and acknowledging Barbara Jordan’s life and impact on the civil rights movement is an incredible honor,” said The Honorable Wilford Flowers, Chairman of the Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation. “We continue her legacy by sharing the interactive timeline and gallery of her life at our state’s capitol. All visitors have an opportunity to witness and engage with the life of an American hero, native Texan and champion of Civil Rights for all. All are welcome to bring their families and friends to the capitol to see this important exhibit, and learn more about the life and legacy of Barbara Jordan.” 

As an elected official, Barbara Jordan accomplished many firsts. She was the first African American to serve in the Texas Senate since Reconstruction (1966-72), the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress from the South (1972-78), and the first to deliver the keynote address at a national party convention (the Democratic Convention in 1976). Her riveting appearance in the Watergate hearings in 1974 helped revitalize many Americans' belief in the strength of the U.S. Constitution.

To commemorate Jordan’s 80th birthday and celebrate her legacy, the exhibit will showcase Jordan’s legislative efforts and lasting impact on the Civil Rights Movement. The interactive portion of  the exhibit will feature a diverse  portrayal of Jordan’s media and speaking  appearances, including footage from  her involvement in the Watergate Impeachment  Hearings, her speech to the 1976 Democratic National  Convention and a little--‐ known 1977 Harvard convocation. The display offers an overview of her life from childbirth to her death in 1996, and has letters, photos and important memorabilia from her life. 

Designed to highlight Barbara Jordan’s lifetime of significant contributions to society as a politician, policymaker, activist and educator, the audio and visual tribute is sponsored by the Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation,   a nonprofit organization founded to continue Barbara Jordan’s fight against injustice, with funding from the Tocker Family Foundation. The displays are created from the archive housed at Texas Southern University, Barbara Jordan’s alma mater, with contributions from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, where she was a professor for 17 years. Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis is the legislative sponsor of the exhibit.

A native of Houston, Barbara Jordan was born in 1936 in Houston’s 5th Ward. She majored in government studies and history at Texas Southern University and went on to law school at Boston University. She was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first African American female from the South elected to the United States House of Representatives. After retiring from political life, Barbara Jordan became a professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin from 1979 until her death in 1996.

More on the Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation: The Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation (BJFF) is an organization dedicated to perpetuating the legacy of Barbara Jordan by inspiring America to achieve the promise of freedom and justice for all people, by promoting the success of children through early childhood opportunities and effective education, and by confronting injustices and in equities in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. For more on the BJFF, please visit: ###

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Last updated: 10/09/2018