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Barbara Jordan's Legacy Sets Example for All

Barbara Jordan's Legacy Sets Example for All

The late, former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 10, 1994. (Charles Tasmadi/AP)

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Friday, 10 February 2017 10:05 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Her name was Barbara Jordan.

She was so many things, but primary among them, I suppose was that she was a congresswoman from Houston, Texas. And she was so at a time that there weren’t many black members of Congress, nor were there many female members of Congress.

At some point, I think the word any would be more accurate. This would have been in the 1970’s, which would have made it even more remarkable.

She was the daughter of a Baptist preacher, and a mother who was almost as remarkable as she was. I keep calling her remarkable. Prove it, you say.

I can’t really list her accomplishments, because they don’t really sound as remarkable as she was. She died quite young, in her late 50’s, of complications from multiple sclerosis, which developed in her at an early age. Other ailments also developed along the way.

Ms. Jordan spoke at two Democratic conventions, and did a remarkable job at both, yet that just seems to equate her with Barack Obama — which doesn’t do her justice.

Barack Obama was fake, manufactured. Barbara Jordan was the real thing.

I have always loved blacks. Barbara Jordan might be one of the main reasons. I am a white conservative w.a.s.p. who has no black relatives, but who has always been of the color blind persuasion, and never quite understood the point of race bias.

A wonderful, impressive person to me is a wonderful, impressive person no matter what their color, sex — or whatever. Barbara Jordan was a wonderfully impressive person.

I never met her personally, but from the first time I heard her speak;she had a remarkable voice, you stopped and listened, no matter what she was saying. The first time he heard her, Senator Lloyd M. Bentsen of Texas said — following a speech she gave at the Watergate hearings — that he, "looked down to see if she were reading from stone tablets."

She was never a race baiter. Race wasn’t her specialty — the Constitution was.

She could say things like, (as she once did), "'We the people' is a very eloquent beginning. But when the Constitution of the United States was completed on the seventeenth of September in 1787, I was not included in that 'We the people,’ but I felt for many years that somehow George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake.

"But through amendment, interpretation, and court decision, I have finally been included in 'We the people.' . . . My faith in the Constitution is whole. It is complete. It is total."

She was a lawyer, along with being a member of Congress, and was a member of the House of Representatives' impeachment panel established to determine if Richard Nixon should be impeached or not.

She also authored her well-received autobiography.

Jordan was once described as a woman of "almost magisterial dignity."

Barbara Jordan also chaired a U.S. Commission, examining legal immigration, and felt strongly that American "patience is growing thin toward those attempting to overwhelm the will of the American people by acts that ignore, manipulate, or circumvent our immigration laws."

Additionally she said, "unless this country does a better job in curbing illegal immigration, we risk irreparably undermining our commitment to legal immigration."

She imparted the following to anyone who would listen," any nation worth its salt must control its borders."

The president at the time, Bill Clinton, said that Jordan had. "captured the nation’s attention and awakened its conscience in defense of the Constitution, the American dream, and the community we share as American citizens."

As Elaine Jones, director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, put it, "Barbara understood that the law was the fabric of society." She was quoted as having said in the final report of the commission, "Barbara Jordan spoke for the millions of Americans waiting for the promise of e pluribus, unum."

A statement Jordan made in 1995 to the National Conference of United We Stand,

America, stands as a fitting, final admonition, "The commission finds no national interest in continuing to import lesser-skilled and unskilled workers to compete in the most vulnerable parts of our labor force. Many American workers do not have adequate job prospects. We should make their task easier to find employment, not harder."

She was mentioned as a vice presidential candidate in 1976, which she always said did not interest her at all. Neither race, nor immigration, nor vestigial issues of either, was her focus. What she cared most about, what was her passion — was the Constitution, and the adherence to and knowledge of all Americans thereto.

She taught a class at the University of Texas’ Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs, (you need to get ready for this one — re: him, not her) on ethics.

The course was so popular "that a lottery was set up for enrollment purposes."

Needless to say, she was often spoken of as a candidate for the Supreme Court?

She was also one of the most private people one would ever see in public life.

She was so remarkable in so many ways, humility being one of them. I am not attempting to honor her because it’s black history month, I’m honoring her because of so many reasons.

Neil Gorsuch, another fine person being nominated for the high court. Illegal immigration finally being recognized as the significant problem it is. President Donald Trump is fighting as hard as Barbara Jordan did during her whole life — for all that is right, and not popular.

How she would have hated the post-inaugural so-called "Womens March" on the Washington, D.C. mall.

She was, quite simply, just magnificent.

Susan Smith Mellody has been a magazine columnist, speechwriter, and reporter. For more of her reports — Click Here Now.

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Barack Obama was fake, manufactured. Barbara Jordan was the real thing. She was, quite simply, just magnificent.
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2017-05-10
Friday, 10 February 2017 10:05 AM
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