Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On This Date in 1977...

Page from Jordan's
clippings scrapbook,
January-December 1977

On December 10, 1977, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan made the decision to leave office after three terms in the House of Representatives (1973-1978).  The decision was surprising to some, probably because it happened so quickly and with little fanfare leading up to her decision.  There has been much speculation over the reasons behind Jordan's decision to move on to other things:  her health, disillusionment with the slow-moving processes to get things done in Congress, Carter's failure to nominate her to a cabinet position after his election, etc.  There may be a grain of truth (or not) in some of the theories.  Whatever Jordan's reasons, true to form, when her mind was made up, that was it.  The end came quickly, Jordan finished her last term at the end of 1978 and moved on to teach at UT-Austin in the LBJ School of Public Affairs for the next 17 years.

Here are some items from Jordan's papers that document the end of her Congressional career.

Handwritten draft of
Jordan's resignation
press release, 1977

Letter to the General Services manager
advising him of Jordan's upcoming
press conference, December 9, 1977

Page from Jordan's clippings
scrapbook, January-December 1977

Jordan's press release, page 1,
December 10, 1977

Jordan's press release, page 2,
December 10, 1977
Page from Jordan's clippings scrapbook.  Article from
Houston Chronicle, December 11, 1977

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

The Barbara Jordan Archives notes the passing of Nelson Mandela.  Our condolences to his family and many friends throughout the world.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays from the Barbara Jordan Archives and Special Collections at Texas Southern University!  This time of year we like to display seasonal times from Jordan’s papers.  This year we thought it would be fun to look at a few items from Jordan's always busy Decembers in the early days of her public service, 1967-1973.  The life of a politician never slows down, even for the holidays.  We will also feature a special holiday exhibit at the RJT Library through the month of December, so if you're in the in neighborhood, stop by and say hello!

All the best to you and yours from the staff of Special Collections and the Barbara Jordan Archives. 

Invitation to the White House from LBJ,
December 9, 1967.  This was most likely one of
Jordan's first meetings with Johnson. 
Jordan at the groundbreaking for a
youth center, Brownwood, TX,
December 11, 1969.

Christmas card list, 1973.  This was at
the end of Jordan's first year in Congress.

A page from Jordan's very busy December 1973.
The job duties demanded flexibility, as 
evidenced by the last-minute additions
and corrections. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK: 50 Years On

Letter from a constituent concerning the
Kennedy assassination.  Barbara Jordan
Papers, 1979BJA001, Box 369, Folder 5.
The Barbara Jordan Archives observes the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. While Jordan and Kennedy never met (to the best of our knowledge), Jordan certainly had a connections to the President--Lyndon B. Johnson, a commitment to public service and through the spirit of Kennedy's message. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On This Date...Post Office Dedication, 1984

On August 27, 1984, the main city post office at 401 Franklin in Houston was dedicated in Barbara Jordan's name.  The ceremony was attended by a who's who of Houston and Texas politics.  Though Jordan had been out of politics for some five years at the time, as the article notes people still took the opportunity to ask if Jordan would consider a return to the political stage.  (She refused.)

This was the first time that Jordan was honored by the United States Postal Service, but not the last--she received her own postage stamp in 2011. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Presidential Medal of Freedom

Jordan with the Clintons
and sisters Rose Mary (left)
and Bennie, 1994.
August 8, 2013 marks the 19th anniversary of the presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Barbara Jordan.  The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award in the United States and is not limited to just American citizens.  President Bill Clinton presented Jordan with her award in Washington with then-First Lady (now former Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton and with Jordan’s sisters Rose Mary and Bennie in attendance. 

In an interesting twist of fate, activist and former Delta Sigma Theta National President Dorothy Height also received the Medal of Freedom the same day as Jordan; forty-one years earlier, Height had signed the pledge certificate when Jordan was inducted into the Texas Southern University chapter of the Deltas as a sophomore. 
President Clinton speaks at the induction
ceremony. Dorothy Height is seated just
behind the President's right.

Jordan was very proud of her Medal of Freedom honor and felt it to be among her best accomplishments.  The Barbara Jordan Archives holds only a facsimile of the award--the original medal was buried with Jordan in 1996.

For more information about other recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, click here

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Impeachment Hearings: 39 Years Later

On July 25, 1974, at about 2am, Barbara Jordan delivered what would be a seminal address for her political career.  If Jordan had kicked down walls and broken barriers during her time in the Texas Senate and Houston politics, what she had to say about the Impeachment process of President Richard Nixon would take her stature as a politician and a stateswoman to another level entirely.

Jordan would later say that her vote to impeach Nixon was "the saddest vote of her political career" but as Jordan biographers have pointed out, the Watergate Impeachment Hearings were also the American people's introduction to the voice, logic and intellect of Barbara Jordan.  

To consider that what Jordan had to say about the Impeachment process, Richard Nixon and the Constitution was electrifying is somewhat of an understatement.  Jordan was flooded with letters, telegrams, and other gestures of support and appreciation from people all over the United States and beyond. Houston businessman Milton Popkin spent his own money to post a thank-you message to Jordan on some 25 billboards in and around Houston:

Article from Jordan's clippings collection.
Jordan's involvement with Watergate continues to fascinate some 40 years on.  Whether this is because of her voice, her preparation, her logic, or the fact that she was a black woman taking a moment to reflect on the irony that she was speaking about a Constitutional matter written at a time when African Americans were not even considered full citizens, it's easy to see why Jordan's Statement on the Articles of Impeachment is still listed (#13) in the Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century.

Monday, March 4, 2013

March is National Women's History Month

This year's theme for National Women's History Month is: "Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics."  In honor of the month, Special Collections at TSU's Robert J. Terry Library has installed an exhibit that features information about National Women's History Month, items from the Heartman Rare Books Collection, and a video presentation from the Barbara Jordan Archives featuring the late astronaut Sally Ride.  Ride was the recipient of the Juanita Kreps Award in 1995, and the awards ceremony includes remarks and congratulations from Jordan. 

Please come by the library during the month of March to see the exhibit--and be sure to stop by the archives and say hello!

For more information on National Women's History Month, click here.

For more information on Women's History Month (administered through the Library of Congress) click here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Happy birthday, Barbara Jordan

February 21, 2013, marks what would have been Jordan's 77th birthday. Though we are past the 76th year mile marker by one year, we thought it would be fun to mark the occasion with some rare images from Jordan's participation in the Constitutional Bicentennial (1776-1976) planning events.  Jordan was active in fundraising and promotion for both national events and Texas state events for the Bicentennial. Below are images from Jordan addressing the House of Representatives in 1974 concerning the upcoming Bicentennial  (including a rare color image of Jordan at the podium), and a shot of a 1976 commemorative medal given to Jordan and other Congressional members that is housed in the archives museum.

Jordan addresses the House, September 24, 1974.

September 24, 1974

The House adjourns, September 24, 1974

Commemorative Bicentennial medal, 1976

Thursday, February 7, 2013

National Prayer Breakfast

Today is the 61st annual National Prayer Breakfast. The event, which is actually not just a breakfast but a series of meetings, luncheons, and dinners, was established in 1953 by President Eisenhower. The Breakfast is designed to be a forum for political, social, and business leaders to assemble and build relationships with each other. Every president since Eisenhower has spoken at the National Prayer Breakfast, and over the years the event has inspired many communities (civic, religious, and political) to hold similar events. 

Jordan attended the 1978 event (presided over by President Carter) and offered the Prayer for National Leaders.

For more information on the National Prayer Breakfast, please visit http://www.waleadership.com/national-prayer-breakfast.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Black History Month 2013

This years's theme for Black History Month is "At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington."  2013 marks the 150th anniversary of both the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln, and the 50th anniversary of the historic "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom."  The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) developed this year's theme with the idea that these two events, so many years apart, are connected and converge under the common threads of freedom, equality and justice. 

TSU's Special Collections and the Barbara Jordan Archives have installed a few exhibits at the Robert J. Terry Library to celebrate Black History Month.  Our exhibits (featuring books, documents, periodicals, newspaper articles and photographs from Special Collections) will remain on display through the month of February.  Our main exhibit on the library's first floor features videos from the National Archives that discuss the role of the National Archives in preserving the history of both the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington; one of the videos is a series of rarely-seen newsreel footage of the March, featuring music by Joan Baez and Marian Anderson, as well as footage of Dr. Martin Luther King's historic speech.

We invite you to stop by the library to see the exhibits.   For those of you who cannot come in person but would like to see the videos from the National Archives, please visit the links below: