Barbara Jordan

Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

An exhibit honoring Barbara Jordan, civil rights activist, congresswoman and former UT professor, opened at the Capitol on Tuesday to chronicle her life and work.

 The exhibit, which will be open until Feb. 15, includes an interactive timeline with information about the phases of Jordan’s life. Among these phases is her tenure as the first black woman elected to the Texas Senate, and her election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972.

The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs is sponsoring the exhibit along with the Barbara Jordan Foundation and Texas Southern University in honor of Black History Month.

“[Jordan represents] a tremendous amount of history here as a politician and a policy maker here in the state of Texas,” said Susan Binford, assistant dean for communications and outreach at the LBJ School.

Jordan is famous for her extensive work to promote civil rights, including aiding in the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

After she left politics, Jordan worked at the University as a professor in the LBJ School for 17 years.

“She was so popular that they actually had to have a lottery to get in to her class because people wanted to get in and there just wasn’t enough seats,” said Gary Chaffee, archivist from the Barbara Jordan archives and special collections at TSU.

Segregation prevented Jordan from attending UT herself, according to Joseph Parker, board member on the Barbara Jordan Foundation. 

Parker said Jordan made a statement for civil rights when she decided to teach at the University.

“To come and give herself to the University of Texas at Austin is a pretty significant statement, and that alone speaks of a journey that she took,” Parker said. “I think in a lot of ways fundamentally [she] was a teacher — a teacher to the nation.”

Jordan’s civil rights efforts paved the way for current student activists, Parker said.

“They are standing on her shoulders and others who have crossed those acres there at UT,” Parker said. “Whether or not they know it.”

Jordan’s efforts at UT are still appreciated and honored at the LBJ School, Binford said. Although the LBJ School is honoring Jordan this month, Binford said they think about her work year round.

“We are in the business this year of training future leaders who are making policy and going out as public servants,” Binford said. “She is a figure that stands for everything that we are trying to impart.”

Parker said he hopes the exhibition at the Capitol and her lasting impact at the LBJ school will encourage University students to learn more about Jordan.

 “If they hear her name, and they may not know about her, then I would hope they would be curious and say, ‘Let me find out more,’” Parker said. “In doing that, they will realize the contribution that she made, and that she was a figure and icon at the LBJ School.”

Former mayor of Atlanta Shirley Franklin gives a speech over Barbara Jordan’s legacy as a leader of ethics. The luncheon was held in honor of Jordan and emphasized her policy interests. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Members of the Texas Legislature, faculty, students and alumni gathered to honor the life and work of Barbara Jordan at a luncheon Tuesday.

As part of the 17th annual Barbara Jordan Forum, Shirley Franklin, a visiting professor in the LBJ School and former two-term mayor of Atlanta, delivered the keynote address at the luncheon. The event was one of many organized to honor Barbara Jordan, a former congresswoman and LBJ School professor.

The weeklong forum was organized by the Graduate Public Affairs Council to honor Jordan and her policy interests in immigration, gender and orientation equality. 

Garry Davis, public affairs graduate student and president of the council, said he and his co-chairs reached out to other campus organizations to create events for the week.

“The three of us organized the student organizations to get together to collaborate on different brown bags and different events to honor Barbara Jordan,” Davis said. “It’s essentially honoring Barbara Jordan and her legacy because she played such a huge role as a professor at LBJ when she was here.” 

At the luncheon, Franklin spoke about Jordan’s legacy as a leader of ethics and asked the question, “Who are the next Barbara Jordans?” 

“Something within Barbara Jordan propelled her to be the person we celebrate today,” Franklin said in her address.   

Franklin also spoke about Jordan’s work as a professor at the LBJ School and the lasting impression she left. 

“People 20 years from now will look back and say not only did Barbara Jordan teach at the LBJ School … ” Franklin said, “Her spirit, her soul, her commitment is in the fiber of everything that happens.”

Public affairs graduate student Raul Sanchez said when he first came to the LBJ School, he was not familiar with Jordan and her work, but he became curious about her legacy.

“I’m really into social justice, so anybody that’s involved in the social justice arena, I’m going to gravitate toward,” Sanchez said. 

Sanchez said the luncheon was great for learning more about Jordan and gaining inspiration from her work. 

“This is an educational activity for me, and it’s something that I want to draw from,” Sanchez said. “What is going to motivate me to keep doing the work I do based on other people’s motivations, and in this instance, it’s going to be Barbara Jordan.”

Published on February 20, 2013 as "Luncheon honors former congresswoman, mayor". 

Texas Gospel Fellowship performs a dance routine at the Barbara Jordan statue rededication in the FAC Tuesday evening. The ceremony was the statue’s first rededication since its erection five years ago. 

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Afrikan-American Affairs, a UT student organization, hosted a rededication ceremony for the statue of former Congresswoman and UT faculty member Barbara Jordan.

The evening not only marked the rededication of Jordan’s statue, but also the centennial of the sorority’s founding. Jordan pledged to Delta Sigma Theta as an undergraduate at Texas Southern University.

Jordan’s memorial, located at the intersection of 24th Street and Whitis Avenue, is the only statue of a woman on the UT campus. The rededication was the statue’s first since its erection five years ago. Although the ceremony was originally scheduled to take place in front of the outdoor statue, the event was moved into the Flawn Academic Center because of rain.

Jordan was the first black woman elected to the Texas Senate and first black woman from the South to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. She delivered the keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention.

The rededication program featured several prominent speakers, such as President William Powers Jr., Student Body President Thor Lund, state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, and Gregory Vincent, vice president for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

Each of the speakers lauded Jordan’s leadership ability and eloquence while calling for a renewal of her vision of equality and justice.

“Barbara Jordan would want us to rededicate ourselves to the work she did,” Powers said. “We must continue to fight for equality for all through higher education.” 

In addition to speeches, performances by the Innervisions Gospel Choir and the Texas Gospel Fellowship commemorated Jordan’s life and legacy. 

Alexius Thomas, president of Delta Sigma Theta’s Epsilon Beta chapter, announced the winner of a scholarship from the Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation. Thomas said the sorority remains committed to Jordan’s mission.

“All of our programs focus on education and political issues, which is what Barbara Jordan would want,” Thomas said. 

Former two-term mayor of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin, will be serving as a visiting professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs this spring.

Franklin, who served as mayor of the city from 2002 to 2010, will be the college’s first Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor in Ethics and Political Values.

Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School, announced Franklin’s position Tuesday. Hutchings said discussions about filling the professorship began last year.

“I had talked to some alumni, faculty, friends of the school and her name came early,” Hutchings said. “It was not a hard decision; Shirley Franklin is an inspirational figure. I see her playing a crucial national role later on.” 

Franklin was the first female mayor of Atlanta and the first African-American woman to be elected mayor of a Southern city. She was also president of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors and was selected by Time magazine as one of the five best big-city mayors in 2005.

The Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values was created almost 15 years ago but remained vacant until Franklin’s appointment. Jordan was the first black woman elected to the Texas Senate and the first black woman from the South to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She also served as a professor at the LBJ School from 1979 to 1996.

“Barbara Jordan’s legacy was so extraordinary that it was hard to find someone to fill it,” Hutchings said, “which is why the position was vacant for so long.”

Franklin said she is humbled to have her name associated with Jordan.

“When I think of Barbara Jordan I think of integrity, intelligence, courage, persuasion and compassion for the poor,” Franklin said. “I am so thankful.”

Franklin visited UT for the first time in the fall of 2012, when she met with community leaders, students, faculty and representatives of the LBJ Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the college and the LBJ Presidential Library. Franklin said she is looking forward to her new role.

“Austin is a city that for a very long time mayors looked for best practices and innovation,” Hutchings said. “I am looking forward to see what the students have to tell me.”

Hutchings said that he is very proud to have Franklin among the faculty, although her role and the classes she will teach have not yet been determined. 

“More than a specific set of responsibilities, she adds an ethical and moral dimension to the school and the University that we didn’t have before,” Hutchings said. “We are still to talk which classes in specific she might even be giving.”

Franklin is interested in studying trends in megaregions, shaping environmental policy and fighting poverty. Franklin will also play a crucial role in the development of a new urban management program.

“I don’t have the typical credentials of an academic, but I have a lot of practical experience,” Franklin said. “You will find that I have a long history in the issues of fighting poverty and homelessness. There is a lot of expertise in government, and I would like to help build bridges.”

Junior economics major Eric Alanis, who is also an aide at the Texas Capitol, said Franklin’s appointment is a great opportunity for students.

“We have the opportunity to study with and meet with one of the best public administrators there is,” Alanis said. “She is committed to reform and isn’t afraid of big challenges: deficit, inefficiency, structural investment, you name it.”

Printed on Thursday, January 17, 2013 as: Prominent mayor to join LBJ faculty 

The statue of latino civil-rights activist Cesar Chavez stands in the West Mall as one of the many diverse statues erected to display an awareness of the diverse demographic present on campus.

Photo Credit: Batli Joselevitz | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: This story is the fifth in a series exploring race, racism and diversity on the UT campus.

A simple stroll around the 40 Acres tells you a lot about UT’s complicated history with racism on campus.

Permanent fixtures of the University’s ties to race and racism are scattered throughout campus. From the representations of Confederate figures in the South Mall to the more recently unveiled statues of Martin Luther King Jr. and Barbara Jordan, each encompass a part of the complex mosaic that is UT’s racial past and present.

Edmund T. Gordon, chair and associate professor of African and African Diaspora Studies, gives tours of the UT campus to explain its ties to racism. Gordon said the campus’ structure is evidence of its racial past, seen most obviously in the Tower’s facing south toward the South Mall.

“There is a huge South Mall because we want to respect our southern heritage and the confederacy,” Gordon said.

Gordon said the South Mall’s Confederate statues and the Littlefield Fountain are symbolic of the University’s history of racist values.

“This is about a glorification of the Confederacy and of a particular moment in history when the South and North are brought together under a democratic president and under a notion of white supremacy,” Gordon said.

Gordon said while he is in favor of keeping the current statues, there needs to be an explanation of their significance to the campus.

“There needs to be some way in which the University recognizes that there’s a debate around these things,” he said. “The thing to remember is that the past of the University is built into its structure and the past of the University is a racist past.”

David Gracy, School of Information professor emeritus, said he agreed with Gordon’s view that the controversial statues should not be removed, but sees the statues as symbolic of something other than racism. Gracy’s great-great-uncle, George Littlefield, was a law professor at UT whose personal funding helped keep UT at its current location and who was commemorated with the construction of the Littlefield Fountain.

Gracy said the Confederate statues in the South Mall were placed next to the Littlefield Fountain as a memorial to celebrate the reunification of the North and South to fight in World War I. He said the figures were intended to serve as sources of inspiration, just like the statues commemorating the civil rights movement.

“They were built in part as a memorial to those who gave their lives in service to their country,” Gracy said. “You include subsequent examples of men whose leadership is particularly admirable. The Martin Luther King statue is an excellent example of that.”

Gracy said examining the statues from a historical and sociological standpoint sheds light on how our society views race.

“Having them there allows us to look at history to see what they originally meant, and as time has gone forward to see what succeeding generations have tried to make them mean,” he said.

Journalism professor Gene Burd has been teaching classes exploring race in the media since he came to UT 40 years ago. Burd said the issue of race on campus was obvious when he first arrived.

“UT-Austin was rather late in becoming a part of the modern civil rights movement,” he said. “That affected enrollment here, it affected courses and it hurt UT’s reputation.”

Other notable fixtures around campus include Robert Lee Moore Hall, named for a former professor known for excluding black students from his classes, and the Perry–Castañeda Library, which was named after notable black and Latino professors at UT.

Burd said while many people propose the removal of the Confederate statues, he does not. Rather, he believes statues of figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Barbara Jordan, the first black female elected to the Texas House of Representatives and a former UT adjunct professor, complement them in giving a full view of history.

“If you’re not willing to accept that your past is still a part of you, you’re lost,” he said. “You can’t just erase it. In order to understand the present and what’s going on now, you have to know what all has happened.”

Amber Chenevert, an advertising graduate student and president of the Black Graduate Student Association, said the history behind the issue of racism is still unfolding even today. Chenevert said she is concerned about a lack of balance on campus.

“The UT campus should reflect all the races, ethnicities and genders that encompass it,” she said. “There needs to be a balance of representation that is an actual reflection of campus and the people there.”

Chenevert said all changes that have taken place, such as the erection of statues of Barbara Jordan and Cesar Chavez, are a product of the struggle of many students.

“These changes are the result of the struggle at UT from the beginning,” she said. “As a larger variety of people have been allowed over time to attend UT, they’ve wanted to be represented on campus fairly and fully.”

Chenevert said this struggle is still taking place.

“We’re still fighting to this day for equality and balanced representation,” Chenevert said.

Printed on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 as:UT fixtures show complex history

Texas State Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson delivered a key note address at the Thomposon Conference Monday afternoon. The symposium was held in honor of Barbara Jordan Freedom Week

Photo Credit: Batil Joselevitz | Daily Texan Staff

Not only a pioneer in Texas’ political and civil rights arenas, Houston native Barbara Jordan was also a faculty member at UT where she is remembered each year on her birthday.

Jordan will be celebrated during her birthday week with student-led events from Feb. 21 to Feb. 24. The Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation began Jordan’s birthday week by commemorating her ideals as an educator in a symposium on the issue of school discipline Monday at the Thompson Conference Center. Law and education officials, as well as policy makers and concerned citizens, discussed proper ways of enforcing discipline at the forum.

Jordan, the first African-American elected senator in Texas and civil rights movement leader, held a 17-year career as a professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs in the last years of her life.

Wil Flowers, former judge and current chair of the Barbara Jordan Freedom Association, said the Foundation was established to perpetuate issues that were extremely meaningful to Jordan such as education, children, juvenile justice and racial equity.

“The most memorable aspect of Barbara was her voice,” Flowers said.” We have chosen to have our inaugural project focus on the problems relating to school discipline. She would have lent her voice to call for change.”

Wallace Jefferson, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, was the keynote speaker at the symposium and said Jordan was an extraordinary leader and generous mentor. He said the purpose of the symposium was to carry out her mission.

Jefferson said the panels were held to shed light on the issues in the school discipline system that is driving students away from school and how Jordan would have been troubled by the current state of the juvenile justice system.

“Compassionate and driven, she worked to end injustice and wanted to ensure that all children would receive the type of education that makes tomorrow’s society better than today,” Jefferson said.

Michele Deitch, professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, moderated the first panel of the symposium, which explained the current state of the middle and high school disciplinary systems.

The first panel discussed research collected by justice and education officials which found a trend of a high number of ticket fines, suspensions and expulsions for discretionary violations dealing with the school’s student code of conduct.

“The symposium is to help understand the scope of the problem,” Deitch said. “We want to have a shared understanding of the issue and learn effective approaches other than suspending, expelling and ticketing kids.”

Other panels discussed effective intervention methods for misbehaving students and the implementation of reforms at the school district level in order to shift the culture surrounding school discipline.

The 16th annual Barbara Jordan National Forum, hosted by the LBJ School of Public Affairs, will continue throughout the week. The theme of the discussions this week are based on a quote from her famous keynote address to the 1976 Democratic Convention, “We the People: The America we Pursue, Empowering People Through Collaboration and Ethical Leadership to Create Innovative Solutions.”

To honor a former UT professor, congresswoman and state senator, the Texas Legislature will pass a resolution today to commemorate the birthday of Barbara Jordan.

Monday marked the 75th birthday of Jordan, former Texas senator and professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Jordan was the first African-American woman to join the state senate and was later elected to the United States Congress, before teaching in the School of Public Affairs. She died in 1996.

Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, will present a House resolution to the Senate that will be passed today in honor of Jordan’s birthday, while Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, will present it to the House, said Laura Langham, a staff attorney and researcher with the Texas Senate. Lawmakers have invited 100 fifth graders from Barbara Jordan Elementary School to watch the resolution pass in the House and the Senate, Langham said.

“Besides the fact that she was an outstanding woman, it seems appropriate to honor her birthday because of all that she accomplished in the Senate,” she said. “It’s important to embody her values as a senator and to
celebrate her.”

The resolution is part of a weeklong symposium co-sponsored by the Legislature and LBJ School to celebrate the life of Barbara Jordan.

Ellis spoke to a crowd of 130 in the LBJ School about Jordan’s legacy. It’s especially important to celebrate her legacy and impact on UT and the School of Public Affairs so that future students can accomplish what she could not, Ellis said.

“Of all of the accolades on her resume to have put on her headstone in the state cemetery, the one that stands out in the boldest print is teacher,“ he said. “Maybe that’s because at the end of the day, the most significant gift that any of us can give to future generations is being a teacher.”

Tiffany O’Neal, a graduate student in the LBJ School and one of the student organizers, said she wanted to get as many student groups involved as possible.

“Every student group we contacted jumped on board,” she said.

Student groups involved with the symposium include Public Alliance for Communities of Color, the Green Society, the Center for Health and Social Policy and Social, Health, and Economic Policymakers. Issues that Jordan fought on behalf of, including environmental justice, juvenile justice and education, are still on the forefront of issues dealt with by students in the School of Public Affairs, O’Neal said.

“The one thing I knew about the LBJ School was that Barbara Jordan taught here, and that’s why I decided to come,” she said. “We all need to keep alive her legacy, her spirit and her passion for social justice.”

The LBJ School of Public Affairs will celebrate the 75th birthday of one of its most well-known professors with a weeklong tribute to honor the life and work of Barbara Jordan.

The first black woman to serve in the Texas Legislature, Jordan led a life full of distinction both as a legislator and as an educator at the LBJ school, said Lauren Burton, one of the student organizers. Jordan’s career includes the speech she made during former President Richard Nixon’s impeachment hearings and the keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention.

“She’s an inspirational figure,” said Burton, a public affairs graduate student. “To be able to speak about ethics and integrity during times like Watergate and be a friend, mentor and champion of education — that resonates with people.”

Burton and a group of about 10 students have worked since last summer to make the traditionally daylong celebration of Jordan’s work into a full week. One of the group’s goals this year was to make students feel like they had more participation by involving numerous student organizations in the LBJ school, Burton said.

The students also wanted to make sure they had a community service portion of the week, which they accomplished by creating a fundraiser to purchase Barbara Jordan biographies for the 50 classrooms of Barbara Jordan Elementary School in Austin. The students launched the fundraiser last week and hope to raise $1,000 by the end of the tribute.

Each day of the tribute week will include discussions on topics such as racial inequality, women in public policy, disability policy and juvenile justice.

The keynote speaker for the kick-off luncheon Monday is Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, an LBJ school alumnus who now occupies Jordan’s Senate seat.

“Barbara Jordan had a huge impact on the course of Texas and American history,” Ellis said. “She was a pioneer and a living example of what was possible in America. She worked hard on policies to expand access to the American dream through expanded access to housing, credit, education and the political process.”

Barbara Jordan student fellow Victoria Lippman helped organize one of the panel discussions for Thursday. The award selects students who embody characteristics consistent with Jordan’s legacy.

“I felt so proud to become a Fellow because I’ve always looked up to her, and she has played a big role in my life,” Lippman said. “When I was younger, I remember her speaking and marveling at how eloquent she was and how her voice commanded so much attention. She embodies the ideals of equality and ethics in policy.”