Vernon Can Read! A Memoir

Vernon Can Read! A Memoir

Vernon Can Read! A Memoir

Vernon Can Read! A Memoir


"In 1955, as a college student home in Atlanta for vacation, Vernon Jordan had a summer job driving a retired white banker around town. During the man's afternoon naps Jordan passed the time reading books, a fact that astounded his boss. "Vernon can read!" the man exclaimed to his relatives. Nearly fifty years later, Vernon Jordan, longtime civil rights leader, adviser and close friend to presidents and business leaders, and one of the most charismatic figures in America, has written an unforgettable book about his life and times. It is a story that encompasses the sweeping struggles, changes, and dangers of black life during the civil rights revolution." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


In the Summer of 1955, at the end of my sophomore year in college, I worked as a chauffeur in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. It had not been my first choice of jobs. I was originally supposed to work as a salesman for the Continental Insurance Company, which had made me an offer during a campus interview at my school, DePauw University. When the interviewer said there was an opening for me in the company's Atlanta office, I jumped at the chance. It was the perfect arrangement for me. I would have a job in the place where I most wanted to be—at home in Atlanta. At the end of the term, brimming with the confidence of a young man with two years of college behind me, I packed my bags and headed south thinking everything was in place.

After a few days settling in with my family, I put on my best suit and headed downtown to the Fulton National Bank Building, where Continental had its offices. I went up to the receptionist's desk to present myself.

"My name is Vernon Jordan," I said. "I'm a student at DePauw University, and I'm here to begin my summer internship."

The receptionist seemed in need of a translator to help clarify what I had just said. She was, at that moment, like a machine whose gears had ground to a halt and was struggling to get restarted. When . . .

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