LGBT History Month – Day 15 – Barbara Jordan

For our 15th, it’s Barbara Jordan (1936 – 1996):

barbara jordan

Barbara Jordan was an American politician, the first African-American to be elected to the Texas State Senate and the first southern black women to be elected to the House of Representatives, the first African-American representative of a former Confederate state. A strong advocate for civil rights, Jordan fought for the establishment of a minimum wage and was a fierce defender of the US Constitution. She was strongly tipped for a position in the Supreme Court, but sadly was afflicted by multiple sclerosis, which rendered her unable to serve in that capacity.

In the 1960s, while on a camping trip, Jordan had met Nancy Earl, who would be her partner for the next twenty years, and they settled in a home they built themselves in Austin, Texas. Jordan never publicly declared herself a lesbian – the House of Representatives website simply says that she “never married and carefully guarded her private life” – but following her death in 1996, President Bill Clinton and Texas Governor Anne Richards both expressed specific sympathies to Nancy Earl, and the information was discussed publicly by the media in the days following.

LGBT activists at the time expressed regret that Jordan never came out publicly during her life. Many asserted that, given her political stature and the esteem in which the nation held her, she could have done so with little harm to herself. But we must assume she had her reasons. Perhaps she simply judged that the political climate was not right; perhaps she simply felt it wasn’t state business. In any case, her legacy is that of a hard-working, hard-fighting advocate of civil rights.

To read more about Barbara you can click here and here


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