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Barbara Jordan: American Hero by Mary Beth…

Barbara Jordan: American Hero

by Mary Beth Rogers

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553380664, Paperback)

Barbara Jordan spoke in the cadences of a black preacher, backed by the moral force of the United States Constitution, and became Texas's first black senator since the Reconstruction era. She served in Congress for two decades before dying of multiple sclerosis at the age of 59 in 1996. "Barbara Jordan was the first African American elected official to become an American hero," Mary Beth Rogers writes. "She broke through previously impenetrable barriers to become an 'inside' political player who was taken very seriously by the white politicians in power." The height of Jordan's power (and fame) came from her interpretation of the Constitution during the 1974 Watergate hearings, a speech that set the stage for President Richard Nixon's resignation. Two years later, Jordan riveted America with her televised keynote speech at the Democratic Party National Convention.

Tracing Jordan's upbringing in Houston's Fifth Ward as the daughter of a Baptist minister, Rogers takes us through her battles with sexism and racism (including black Americans' internal color-based caste system). She also peels away the mysteries of her personality, which was described as "stubborn," "cold," and "sarcastic," the result of emotional shields forged by too many social and psychic wars. But those traits also accounted for her determination to deal with her multiple sclerosis with courage and dignity. "Barbara Jordan's story reflects both the America dream and a fundamental human hope for a sense of community," Rogers writes. "If we understand her lessons, then we will know that the making of an American hero is a rare--and wondrous--event." --Eugene Holley Jr.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:29 -0400)

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Barbara Jordan was the first African American to serve in the Texas Senate since Reconstruction, the first black woman elected to Congress from the South, and the first to deliver the keynote address at a national party convention. Yet Jordan herself remained a mystery, a woman so private that even her close friends did not know the name of the illness that debilitated her for two decades until it struck her down at the age of fifty-nine. In Barbara Jordan, Mary Beth Rogers deftly explores the forces that shaped the moral character and quiet dignity of this extraordinary woman. She reveals the seeds of Jordan's trademark stoicism while recapturing the essence of a black woman entering politics just as the civil rights movement exploded across the nation. Celebrating Jordan's elegance, passion, and patriotism, this illuminating portrayal gives new depth to our understanding of one of the most influential women of our time, a woman whose powerful convictions and flair for oratorical drama changed the political landscape of America's twentieth century.… (more)

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