Life can foreshadow like a bawse!
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Barbara Charline Jordan was an American politician who was both a product, and a leader, of the Civil Rights movement. She was the first African-American elected to the Texas Senate after reconstruction and the first Southern black woman ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She was an inspirational figure in the Progressive movement through her powerful public speaking and her triumphant refusal to be defined by disability. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous other honors. On her death she became thefirst African-American Woman to be interred in the Texas State Cemetery. The main terminal of Austin-Bergstrom Airport is named for her.
Jordan campaigned for the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and 1964. Her persistence won her a seat in the Texas Senate in 1966, becoming the first African American state senator since 1883 and the first black woman to serve in that body. Re-elected to a full term in the Texas Senate in 1968, she served until 1972. She was the first African-American female to serve as president pro tem. of the state senate and served one day, June 10, 1972, as acting governor of Texas
In 1972, she was elected to the United States House of Representatives, becoming the first black woman from a Southern state to serve in the House. She was also the first woman to represent Texas in the House in her own right (the first, Lera Thomas, had been elected as a stand-in for her husband, Albert). She received extensive support from former President Lyndon Johnson, who helped her secure a position on the House Judiciary Committee. In 1974, she made an influential, televised speech before the House Judiciary Committee supporting the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.
Jordan was mentioned as a possible running mate to Jimmy Carter in 1976, and that year she became the first African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Her speech in New York that summer was ranked 5th in "Top 100 American Speeches of the 20th century" list and was considered by many historians to have been the best convention keynote speech in modern history. Despite not being a candidate Jordan received one delegate vote (0.03%) for president at the convention.
In 1973, Jordan began to suffer from multiple sclerosis. She had difficulty climbing stairs, and she started using a cane and eventually a wheelchair. She kept the state of her health out of the press so well that in the KUT radio documentary Rediscovering Barbara Jordan,President Bill Clinton stated that he wanted to nominate Jordan for the United States Supreme Court, but by the time he could do so, Jordan's health problems prevented him from nominating her.
Jordan's companion of close to 30 years was Nancy Earl. Jordan met Earl, an educational psychologist who would become an occasional speech writer in addition to Jordan's partner, on a camping trip in the late 1960s. Jordan never publicly acknowledged her sexual orientation, but in her obituary, the Houston Chronicle mentioned her long relationship with Earl. Jordan biographer Mary Beth Rogers, author of "Barbara Jordan: American Hero," found no conclusive evidence to suggest that the former congresswoman was a lesbian. After Jordan's initial unsuccessful statewide races, advisers warned her to become more discreet and not bring any female companions on the campaign trail.