Transcript of Barbara Jordan

This is Texas Originals. From Humanities Texas, for the advancement of heritage, culture and education.

In July 1974, as the Watergate hearings took place, one voice stood out expressing faith in American ideals. That voice—deep, measured, and unmistakable—belonged to Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. “My faith in the Constitution is whole,” Jordan declared, “it is complete, it is total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.” Jordan’s words electrified Congress and a national televised audience, and helped bring about President Nixon’s resignation.

Jordan was born in Houston’s Fifth Ward in 1936, and attended segregated schools until she enrolled at Boston University Law School.

In 1966, Barbara Jordan began her historic political career when she became the first African American woman elected to the Texas Senate. Six years later, she won election to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first African American woman from a southern state to serve in the body.

Jordan mastered the art of political compromise, but never wavered in her commitment to the Constitution.

In 1979, Jordan retired from elective office to begin a teaching career, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. When she died, in 1996, her burial in the Texas State Cemetery marked yet another first: she was the first black woman interred there.

More information about Barbara Jordan and other Texas Originals is available at This program is produced by KUHF Houston Public Radio and Humanities Texas, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.