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.