Barbara Charline Jordan was an American politician and a leader of the Civil Rights movement. She was the 1st African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction, the 1st southern black female elected to the United States House of Representatives, and the 1st African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic National Convention. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous other honors. On her death, she became the 1st African-American woman to be buried in the Texas State Cemetery. Barbara attended Roberson Elementary School. She graduated from Phillis Wheatley High School in 1952 as an honor student.
Jordan credited a speech given at her high school by Edith S. Sampson with inspiring her to become a lawyer. Because of segregation, she did not attend The University of Texas at Austin and instead chose Texas Southern University, majoring in political science and history. Barbara was a national champion debater, defeating her opponents from such schools as Yale and Brown and tying Harvard University. She graduated magna cum laude in 1956. At Texas Southern University, she pledged Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She attended Boston University School of Law, graduating in 1959. Jordan taught political science at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for a year. In 1960, she returned to Houston, passed the bar and started a private law practice. In 1966, she became the 1st African American state senator since 1883 and the 1st black woman to serve in that body. She was the 1st 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 Congress, the 1st woman to represent Texas in the House in her own right. Jordan supported the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, legislation that required banks to lend and make services available to underserved poor and minority communities.
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