Barbara Jordan: Speaking the Truth with Eloquent Thunder

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Revered by Americans across the political spectrum, Barbara Jordan was "the most outspoken moral voice of the American political system," in the words of former President Bill Clinton, who awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994. Throughout her career as a Texas senator, U.S. congresswoman, and distinguished professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Barbara Jordan lived by a simple creed: "Ethical behavior means being honest, telling the truth, and doing what you said you were going to do." Her strong stand for ethics in government, civil liberties, and democratic values still provides a standard around which the nation can unite in the twenty-first century.

This volume brings together several major political speeches that articulate Barbara Jordan's most deeply held values. They include:

  • "Erosion of Civil Liberties," a commencement address delivered at Howard University on May 12, 1974, in which Jordan warned that "tyranny in America is possible"
  • "The Constitutional Basis for Impeachment," Jordan's ringing defense of the U.S. Constitution before the House Judiciary Committee investigating the Watergate break-in
  • Keynote addresses to the Democratic National Conventions of 1976 and 1992, in which Jordan set forth her vision of the Democratic Party as an advocate for the common good and a catalyst of change
  • Testimony in the U.S. Congress on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork and on immigration reform
  • Meditations on faith and politics from two National Prayer Breakfasts
  • Acceptance speech for the 1995 Sylvanus Thayer Award presented by the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy, in which Jordan challenged the military to uphold the values of "duty, honor, country"

Accompanying the speeches, some of which readers can also watch on an enclosed DVD, are context-setting introductions by volume editor Max Sherman. The book concludes with the eloquent eulogy that Bill Moyers delivered at Barbara Jordan's memorial service in 1996, in which he summed up Jordan's remarkable life and career by saying, "Just when we despaired of finding a hero, she showed up, to give the sign of democracy.... This is no small thing. This, my friends, this is grace. And for it we are thankful."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292716377
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2007
  • Series: Louann Atkins Temple Women and Culture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 685,176
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

MAX SHERMAN is Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He was Barbara Jordan’s friend and colleague for twenty-five years, first in the Texas Senate and later at the LBJ School.
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Table of Contents


Biography of Barbara Jordan, with Student Comments

My Personal Introduction of Barbara Jordan

Erosion of Civil Liberties: Commencement Speech, Howard University, May 11, 1974

The National Political Stage
Rising to the Occasion: The Constitutional Basis for Impeachment, U.S. House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearings, July 25, 1974
Center Stage: Democratic National Convention Keynote Address, July 12, 1976
The Spotlight after Congress: Democratic National Convention Keynote Address, July 13, 1992

Barbara Jordan's Take on Three Twenty-First-Century Political Issues
Confirmation of Supreme Court Justices: Testimony in Opposition to the Nomination of Robert Bork, September 17, 1987
Immigration Reform: Congressional Testimony as Chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, March 29, 1995
Religious Faith and Politics: Prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast, February 2, 1978; Address at the National Prayer Breakfast, February 2, 1984

The Sylvanus Thayer Award
Unswerving Dedication to Principle: 1995 Sylvanus Thayer Award Citation, West Point, October 5; Barbara Jordan's Thayer Award Acceptance

Epilogue: Remarks of Bill Moyers at the Memorial Service for Barbara Jordan, University of Texas at Austin, January 28, 1996


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  • Posted June 25, 2009

    Barbara Jordan

    As I began reading the book and excerpts from her various speeches I could hear her commanding voice drawing my attention to every word and what's my role to implement change making the world a better place. She represented the voice for justice exemplifying high ethical standards not just for persons in politics, but as a self-reflecting mirror on where an individual stands on his/her principles of chosen profession or occupation. Even though the book may be used in philosophy and political science courses; however, its one that can be embedded in any discipline of study. This is truly a must read to affirm or reaffirm one's role living in a democratic society representing all human beings.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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