Reference Entry

Jordan, Barbara

Ann T. Keene

in American National Biography Online


Published online January 2001 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.article.0700729

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Jordan, Barbara (21 February 1936–17 January 1996), lawyer, politician, and university professor, was born Barbara Charline Jordan in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Benjamin M. Jordan and Arlyne Patten Jordan. Her father, a graduate of the Tuskegee Institute, was a warehouse employee until 1949 when he became a minister at Houston's Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church, in which his father's family had long been active. Arlyne Jordan also became a frequent speaker at the church. The Jordans were always poor, and for many years Barbara and her two older sisters shared a bed, but their lives improved somewhat after their father became a minister. Barbara attended local segregated public schools and received good grades with little effort. She gave scant thought to her future, beyond forming a vague desire to become a pharmacist, until her senior year at Phillis Wheatley High School, when a black female lawyer spoke at the school's career day assembly. Already a proficient orator who had won several competitions, she decided to put that skill to use as an attorney....

Reference Entry.  1816 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics ; Law ; Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Education

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