Barbara Jordan: Speaking the Truth with Eloquent Thunder

By Max Sherman | Go to book overview

CENTER STAGE

IN I976 BARBARA JORDAN'S HISTORIC WORDS TO THE HOUSE

Judiciary Committee were replayed to introduce her as the keynote speaker to the Democratic National Convention. The crowd in New York City's Madison Square Garden erupted with sustained shouts and applause.

She brought that raucous hall to an eerie silence before she said a word. She stood there until all was quiet, then she emphasized:

But there is something different tonight. There is something spe-
cial about tonight. What is different? What is special? I, Barbara
Jordan, am a keynote speaker.

After another explosion of shouts and clapping, she added:

My presence here is one additional bit of evidence that the Ameri-
can Dream need not forever be deferred.

She then turned subtly to politics, although it should be noted that her thirty-minute keynote speech was largely nonpartisan. The following remarks are just as applicable in 2007 as they were in 1976:

could easily spend this time praising the accomplishments of
this party and attacking the Republicans but I don't choose to do
that.

I could list the many problems which Americans have. I could
list the problems which cause people to feel cynical, angry, frus-
trated; problems which include lack of integrity in government; the
feeling that the individual no longer counts; the reality of material

-32-

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