Barbara Jordan: Speaking the Truth with Eloquent Thunder

By Max Sherman | Go to book overview

1995 SYLVANUS THAYER AWARD CITATION,
WEST POINT, OCTOBER 5

EDWARD C. MEYER, GENERAL (RETIRED), CHAIRMAN, ASSOCIATION OF GRADUATES

As a distinguished author, public servant, and educator, Professor Barbara Jordan has rendered a lifetime of outstanding service to the United States and to her fellow citizens. In unusually diverse and multiple fields of endeavor and in positions of extraordinary responsibility, Barbara Jordan, through her accomplishments in the national interest and manner of achievement, has exemplified the ideals of West Point as expressed in its motto, “Duty, Honor, Country.”

Barbara Jordan's extraordinary journey from the segregated Houston neighborhood of her childhood to legendary figure on the national stage is replete with firsts. Deciding early in life to be something out of the ordinary, she honed her gift for public speaking in high school and later at Texas Southern University, where she won national recognition in competitive debate and oratory. After graduating magna cum laude, she enrolled in the Boston University School of Law.

Following graduation in 1959, she was admitted to the bar in both Massachusetts and Texas. Choosing to return to her native state, she opened her private practice in Houston. In 1965, Barbara Jordan ran for the Texas Senate and won with a two-to-one majority—the first African American woman ever elected to that body. An astute student of Texas legislative procedure, her performance was so effective that her thirty white male colleagues

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