Texas Ingenuity History


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I think you've got a hit on your hands -- judging by the way the guys were reading it yesterday! They kept going--"I didn't know this"... or, "oh, yeah, I remember this"...What FUN! I gave out 7 of your Texas books at the family Christmas get-together yesterday--and now I need to buy another 3. P.S. (Athens)

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Barbara Jordan, God's Voice from Texas

In 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned the office of President of the United States. The Watergate scandal tested the resilience of the United States Constitution and inaugurated an era of distrust and accusation between political parties that remains to this day. A few politicians have managed to rise above the fray. One was Barbara Jordan. Called upon to give the keynote speech at the 1976 Democratic Convention, she set aside the political rancor of the day and urged the country to come together in unity.

If any person could have contemptuously recited the woes of the disenfranchised, of the down and out, of those who did not share in the American Dream, it would have been Barbara Jordan. Instead, this first African-American woman ever to deliver the keynote address at a major political convention chose to give a speech of hope that would "fulfill our national purpose, to create and sustain a society in which all of us are equal." Barbara Jordan spoke not only with conviction, intelligence, and persuasion; she spoke with a powerful voice that rang with authority and compassion. This woman from Texas captured the imagination of Americans.

The Jordan family lived in the Houston's Fifth Ward area just east of downtown. Primarily settled by former slaves after the Civil War, by the 1930s, this area's residents were the working poor who could walk from their homes to jobs at the Southern Pacific Railroad or at the Houston Ship Channel. Others in the Ward commuted by bus to work as domestics for wealthy Houstonites. During the first half of the twentieth century, this neighborhood remained a world apart. Unable to legally participate in many of the "whites only" activities of the city, the blacks of the Fifth Ward existed in their own impoverished and protective cocoon, where most streets were unpaved, most houses had no running water, and where many families existed on the edge of starvation.

Continues in the book . . .

Within her first two years, she earned respect among the House members as one of the hardest working, most intelligent freshman representatives. However, it wasn't until 1974 that the public realized the stature of Barbara Jordan.

Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan giving keynote address before the

1976 Democratic National Convention in New York City.

(Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-U9-32937-32A/33.)

In that year, President Nixon was accused of involvement in a cover-up of the burglary at the offices of the National Democratic Committee in the Watergate Hotel. (See the previous story of Howard Hughes for another Texas connection to this event.) During congressional hearings that surrounded the Watergate scandal, Jordan's eloquent, powerful, and authoritative speaking ability brought her into the national spotlight as she eloquently and thoughtfully called President Nixon to task for his actions.

Continues. . .

Texas Tidbit: The Barbara Jordan papers are housed at Texas Southern University in Houston where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1956.

For more information. . .

The story continues in the book Texas Ingenuity... For complete information on this and other Texas stories...