Politics and Government

The U.S. Congress in Modern Times

What Southern black woman was the first of her race elected to the House?

Barbara Charline Jordan (1936–1996) was the first Southern black woman elected to the House, in 1972. Houston-born Jordan gained recognition from a nationwide television audience as the House Judiciary committee considered articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. She received her education at Texas Southern University and Boston University Law School. She was elected to the Texas legislature in 1965. Her reputation as one of the twentieth century’s great orators was sustained by her keynote address before the 1976 Democratic Convention. Jordan decided in 1978 to retire from Congress. She became the Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Chair in National Policy Professor at the University of Texas at Austin.


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