WASHINGTON - With the 34th stamp in the Black Heritage series, the Postal Service honors Barbara Jordan, one of the most respected and influential American politicians of the 20th century. The stamp goes on sale in September.
Her prodigious list of “firsts” includes being the first African- American woman elected to the Texas legislature, the first African- American elected to the Texas State Senate since 1883, and the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress from the South.
She captured the attention and admiration of the nation with her intelligence and integrity, her ardent patriotism and steadfast dedication to public service, and her eloquent oratory and charismatic leadership.
Staunchly determined to help extend social justice and federal protection of equal rights to all American citizens, Jordan dedicated her life to working for the benefit of others and her legacy will carry on for generations to come.
In 1976, Jordan became the first woman and the first African-American to deliver a keynote address to the Democratic National Convention. Her televised speech—considered the highlight of the convention—described Americans as “a people in search of a national community…attempting to fulfill our national purpose, to create and sustain a society in which all of us are equal.” Once again, Barbara Jordan’s message resonated throughout the country.
Jordan ultimately served three terms in Congress, sponsoring and supporting numerous pieces of legislation extending federal protection of civil rights. Her record of success ensured social justice and equal rights for more American citizens.
In 1979, Jordan became a professor of public affairs and ethics at the University of Texas at Austin, where she quickly earned a stellar reputation as an extraordinarily inspiring and challenging professor. She was such a popular teacher, in fact, that student lotteries were held to make the final determination on enrollment in her classes. In 1982, Jordan was appointed to the university’s Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Chair in National Policy.
Throughout the years, Jordan continued to keep up with politics and national affairs and was a much sought-after lecturer. In 1987 she testified against the confirmation of Robert H. Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 1992 she was a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in New York City. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Jordan chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, a post she held until her death.
During her lifetime Barbara Jordan received many prestigious honors and awards, including the 1984 Eleanor Roosevelt Humanities Award, the 1990 Harry S. Truman Public Service Award, the 1992 NAACP Spingarn Medal, and the 1993 Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights. In 1994, President Clinton presented Jordan with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor.
In 1984, Jordan was elected to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1990 and the African-American Hall of Fame in 1993. Also in 1993, she was named one of the most influential American women of the 20th century by the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
The portrait featured on the stamp is an oil painting by award-winning artist Albert Slark of Ajax, Ontario, Canada. Slark based his portrait on an undated black-and-white photograph of Jordan.