Women’s History Month: Barbara Jordan

March is Women’s History Month and it is dedicated to honoring women’s contributions to American History. I decided to honor this month with a twist by identifying a variety of women that I am inspired by. Each week, I will break done their story, pain point and what they had to overcome. My hope is that it will connect with you and REMIND you how we all have a story of overcoming and triumph. May the stories of every woman empower YOU to walk in your God-given design.


Photo taken from Texas LBJ School

Photo taken from Texas LBJ School

When I was in elementary school, I did a research project on Barbara Jordan. My parents and I still talk about this til’ this day. I secretly think my Dad wanted me to be a lawyer, but that’s neither here or there. Getting reacquainted with Ms. Jordan’s had me smiling and silently clapping. She is the essence of what it means to overcome and JUMP over every obstacle that stood in the way of her dream and purpose. It’s a complete honor to share some incredible facts about her. So, let’s get into it!

Barbara Jordan was born in Houston, Texas and to be more specific, she was raised in Houston’s Fifth Ward. Her parents were Arlyne Patton Jordan and Benjamin Jordan. An incredibly interesting fact was that her Father was a former pastor at a church I attended for bible study in Houston, which was Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church. This church is a staple in Third Ward and the Houston community at large.

During Barbara’s high school years, she won several debating awards and had a gift of oratory. What sticks out to me here is when we look back at our lives, from formative years into adolescence, often there is a theme that meets us later on in life as we walk out our purpose. Barbara went onto Texas Southern University (TSU) and soared. However, it was not without a struggle. She ran for both student body and class president and lost. She also had to overcame NOT standing in her own way and allowing her gift to be strengthened through a debate coach. She stated, “I thought I had superb diction and that no one would need to correct anything. Thomas Freeman found a flaw and worked on it until it was corrected. I cannot overestimate the impact and influence Dr. Freeman had on my life.” (Jones) Barbara left TSU and became one of the greatest debaters, even tying with the Harvard’s debate team.

After college, Barbara pursued her law degree at Boston College and graduated in 1959. She returned to Houston and started her political journey. I thought it was pretty dope knowing that she started her law firm in her parent’s basement (can we say parents hold us down – hello). Returning to Houston was pivotal for Ms. Jordan as she began to grow and develop. She became the FIRST African American FEMALE elected into the Texas State Senate since 1883. She also became the FIRST African American Texan in the Senate. She ended up serving a lengthy time in politics before leaving to teach ethics at University of Texas (Austin) in 1979.

Barbara Jordan overcame colorism and her Dad questioning her blackness at birth, body complexities, segregation and oppression, losing college elections to losing twice when she ran for the Texas house of representatives. Yet, she overcame and BECAME one of America’s best orators. What an incredible journey and path that Barbara led. She is the essence of not allowing failures to define you – instead to let it be fuel to keep going.

I never intended to become a run-of-the-mill person.

-Barbara Jordan

Citations:

(Jones, Previn. “TSU debate coach helped the famous find their voices.” Chron. 4 Mar. 2021, https://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/TSU-debate-coach-helped-the-famous-find-their-2884576.php)

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