Thursday, October 15, 2009

Who's that Queer?

Brought to you by Pistol Pete

Representative Barbara Jordan (D-Texas) was the first African-American woman elected to Congress from a southern state. She was known as an outstanding orator and Constitutional scholar.She served as a congresswoman in the United States House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979.

Jordan campaigned for the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and 1964.Her persistence won her a seat in the Texas Senate in 1966, becoming the first African American state senator since 1883 and the first black woman to serve in that body. Re-elected to a full term in the Texas Senate in 1968, she served until 1972. She was the first African-American female to serve as president pro tem. of the state senate and served one day, June 10, 1972, as acting governor of Texas.

In 1972, she was elected to the United States House of Representatives, becoming the first black woman from a Southern state to serve in the House. She received extensive support from former President Lyndon Johnson, who helped her secure a position on the House Judiciary Committee. In 1974, she made an influential, televised speech before the House Judiciary Committee supporting the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

Jordan was mentioned as a possible running mate to Jimmy Carter in 1976, and that year she became the first African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Her speech in New York that summer was ranked 5th in "Top 100 American Speeches of the 20th century" list and was considered by many historians to have been the best convention keynote speech in modern history until the 2004 keynote by Barack Obama. Despite not being a candidate Jordan received one delegate vote (0.03%) for president at the convention.

In 1973, Jordan began to suffer from multiple sclerosis. She had difficulty climbing stairs, and she started using a cane and eventually a wheelchair. She kept the state of her health out of the press so well that in the KUT radio documentary, Rediscovering Barbara Jordan, former president Bill Clinton stated that he wanted to nominate Jordan for the United States Supreme Court, but by the time he could do so, Jordan's health problems prevented him from nominating her.

Jordan's companion of close to 30 years was Nancy Earl. Jordan met Earl, an educational psychologist who would become an occasional speech writer in addition to Jordan's partner, on a camping trip in the late 1960s. Jordan never publicly acknowledged her sexual orientation, but in her obituary, the Houston Chronicle mentioned her long relationship with Earl, interpreted to confirm her being a lesbian. However, Jordan biographer Mary Beth Rogers, author of "Barbara Jordan: American Hero," found no conclusive evidence to suggest that the former senator was a lesbian. After Jordan's initial unsuccessful statewide races, advisers warned her to become more discreet and not bring any female companions on the campaign trail.

Source: Wikipedia

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