Perhaps most famous for the sound of her sonorous voice, Barbara Jordan articulated the emotions of many when as member of the House Judiciary Committee, she defended the U.S. Constitution against its subversion during the Watergate scandal in 1972. Using herself as a symbol of the people who had once been excluded from it, she said, “I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the destruction of the Constitution.”
Born in Houston’s Fifth Ward, Jordan became the first black female Texas state senator in 1967 and the first black Texan elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972. Her political strategy was to join the system rather than challenge it. In Texas, she supported the state’s first minimum wage and civil rights laws. In the House, she helped win equal credit for women and the extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to cover Mexican-Americans.
After her death in 1996, Jordan was named one of the 20th century’s most influential women.
This month, KUT is partnering with the Ruthe Winegarten Foundation to celebrate Women's History Month. Every day, we'll bring you a short feature spotlighting a historic woman, movement, or group of women in Texas.