Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another First...

Jordan addresses the Texas Democratic Party, 1970
Houston Post article, 1970
Jordan has been called a "woman of firsts":  the first African American woman to reside over a state body (Governor For A Day, 1972); the first African American woman from the deep South to be elected to the House of Representatives; the first African American to give the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention; and the list goes on.  It was with surprise and excitement that it was discovered recently (or, more accurately, rediscovered) that Jordan was the first African American to be named to an office in the history of the Texas Democratic Party. On September 15, 1970, Jordan was appointed Temporary Secretary to the Texas Democratic Party during the state convention.  The speech that Jordan delivered that day accepting the job was discovered in a box of speeches pertaining to democracy; a little digging turned up newspaper articles in Jordan's clippings scrapbooks and a few photographs of the event.  What is surprising about this event is that very little mention has been made of this milestone in biographies and histories written about Jordan; Jordan didn't even mention it in her own autobiography!  Yet, as Jordan stated in her speech:

Jordan's speech at the
Texas Democratic Convention
This is a historical moment, and I want all of us to take note that this is the first time in the history of the State Democratic Convention that a black person has been named as an officer of this convention.  I think it is past due that we did this.

Surprises like this are what make archives almost a living, breathing entity:  we are constantly uncovering new things about Barbara Jordan, and thus her legacy of "firsts" continues.  Who knows what other "firsts" will be uncovered by future Barbara Jordan researchers?

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