Plaque Sponsor

Levi Strauss & Co.

1936 - 1996

"Just remember the world is not a playground but a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday but an education. One eternal lesson for us all: to teach us how better we should love."

- Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan grew up in the historically black Fifth Ward of Houston, Texas. She attended segregated public schools, and an all-black college, where she graduated magna cum laude. She was first elected to the Texas legislature in 1966 and, from 1973 to 1979, served in the U.S. House of Representatives, the first black woman from a Southern state to do so. A gifted speaker, in 1974, she made an influential, televised speech before the House Judiciary Committee supporting the impeachment of President Richard Nixon. She also became the first African American woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention – a speech that was ranked Fifth in "Top 100 American Speeches of the 20th Century" and was considered by many historians to have been the best convention keynote speech in modern history. Suffering from multiple sclerosis, Jordan retired from politics in 1979 and became an adjunct professor teaching ethics at the University of Texas at Austin. Thanks to the strength of her oratory, she had earned a lasting reputation as a powerful force in American politics and, in 1990, was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame as one of the most influential women of the twentieth century. In 1992, she was again the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention at which she nominated President Bill Clinton. In 1994, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her health in decline, Barbara Jordan died on January 17, 1996. She was survived by her companion of 30 years, Nancy Earl – a relationship about which Jordan had remained circumspect to all but her closest associates during most of her career. On April 24, 2009 a statue was dedicated in her memory at the University of Texas.

Plaque Sponsor

Levi Strauss & Co.

Lesson Plan


Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Lesbian

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity African American Black

Faith Construct Protestant

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968) Information Age (1970-present) Post-Stonewall Era (1974-1980)

Field(s) of Contribution


Advocacy & Activism

Civics, Government, Politics, & Law




Social Justice

Social Sciences

US History

Commemorations & Honors

First Woman to Give a Keynote Speach at the DNC (1976)

Peabody Awards Board of Jurors Member (1978-1980)

Texas Women's Hall of Fame Inductee (1984)

National Women's Hall of Fame Inductee (1990)

Spingarn Medal from the NAACP (1992)

Elizabeth Blackwell Award from Hobart and William Smith Colleges (1993)

Presidential Medal of Freedom For Public Service in Congress (1994)

Second Ever Female Awardee of the United States Military Academy's Sylvanus Thayer Award (1995)

Jordan/Rustin Coalition Named in Her Honor (2000)

Barbara Jordan Statue Unveiled at the University of Texas at Austin (2009)

Barbara Jordan Forever Stamp Issued (2011)

San Francisco Rainbow Honor Walk Honoree (2018)


Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo
Biography Edited By
Owen Keehnen
Biography Vetted, Edited, and Certified By
Dr. Brian Riedel
Rice University and Ms. Hellena Stokes
Houston Public Library
Image Rights Usage Granted By
Courtesy of Bettman/CORBIS
Image Source for Bronze Casting
Courtesy of Bettman/CORBIS
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell