Black History Month – The First Woman I Wanted to be President
Lately I have been thinking about a person who is incredibly significant in American political history, a personal touchstone for me: Barbara Charline Jordan, described in her Wikipedia entry as a lawyer, educator, American politician and leader of the Civil Rights Movement.
I’m not going to give more than a thumbnail sketch of biographical material – you can read her Wikipedia entry for yourself to refresh your memory, or better, read Denise Oliver Velez’s wonderful essay on DKos, Barbara Jordan: ‘She always did sound like God’. Denise writes like an archangel so it makes sense to point you to her writing, it’s certainly better than mine.
What I have to offer is only perspective, and a personal connection, albeit closer in my mind than in ‘real life’. The first thread of connection is her name, Barbara. That is my given name also, and I think there are other Barbaras in our Village group that we know well. It might seem like an insignificant coincidence, but words have power, and names have amazing resonance for some. Names we are born with, names that we choose, can define us, can connect us.
The second thread – Barbara was a native of Houston, my town. Different neighborhoods – I grew up in the suburbs northeast of town outside (then) the city limits and just before the next place up the road, Aldine. Barbara grew up in Fourth Ward. Different, but I could imagine we saw some of the same streets, felt the same rhythm, since city rhythms are unique and defy duplication.
I probably only became aware of her when she became the US Representative from Texas’s 18th Congressional District, a seat held today by Shirley Jackson Lee. The 18th District looks kind of like a fat G and winds from north of town down through the northwest, through the middle of downtown Houston and finally back up to the northeast. It’s one of those funny looking shapes for a district that was probably drawn along racial lines that have subsequently blurred but never completely faded.
Two years after the Watergate break-in scandal the country, including me and my grandmother, found themselves in the summer of 1974 watching the Congressional Impeachment Hearings on live television. It was in a period of personal upheaval and the last summer I was able to spend time just hanging out with my grandmother, who had been an oasis for me for a significant number of years. Together, we watched the hearings and shook our heads, marveling at the utter strangeness of the times – a presidential impeachment, after the scandals, the Vietnam War, the unrest, the turmoil, some of which even reach our Houston suburb.
That’s probably where I heard Barbara Jordan speak for the first time. A member of the House Judiciary Committee, she gave a fifteen minute speech on live television on July 25th which is credited by many as being one of the reasons Richard Nixon finally bowed to the inevitable and resigned. Like every speech this woman gave, it was powerful, smart, clear and rang with an unparalleled understanding and love for the principles embodied in the Constitution. It was, quite frankly, far over my head, as a high school teenager, but her amazing voice and the clarity with which she communicated were more than enough to reach out and ensnare my mind and heart.
I could barely have understood how incredibly unique she was, how groundbreaking and earthshaking. I had lived through race riots in my junior high school years over desegregation and I knew that the promise of our Founding Fathers that all men were created equal was not a realized reality in our land.
But I grew up with Lieutenant Uhura, and Nurse Julia and Barney Collier and while I knew the struggle was real, I thought everyone understood that bigotry and prejudice were the past and had no place in our future.
I graduated high school in 1976, the Bicentennial year. Our class song was Philadelphia Freedom. Our colors were red white and blue, even though the school colors were black and gold. And there was a presidential election coming up that year that we would be old enough to vote in.
There was some talk about Barbara Jordan as a possible running mate for Jimmy Carter and I really wanted that to happen. Instead, she became the first African American woman to be a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention. Though she was not a candidate, she actually got one delegate vote for president!
That year I was positive that I would live to see Barbara Jordan as President of the United States, some day.
We were never so fortunate.
If you already know her, and have heard her speak, I hope this small recollection does not seem too shabby a tribute.
If you haven’t heard her, do yourself a favor.
Keynote speech, part one. Listen to them cheer her… Listen to how carefully she says, “a Barbara Jordan”.
Part two. Accountability.
Part three. “Whatever differs from this…”
The impeachment speech. Listen to the unerring precision of her fire.
Thank you for your patience. Love and peace, Village! Enjoy your Wednesday gathering.
Good morning, Meese! I’m starting to feel more comfortable with this platform, so with a little luck, we’ll have a post that is less bare-boned and more detailed than my first attempt.
I’m full-on, foaming at the mouth “irked” as I write this. Start with this: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/how-to-beat-trump/515736/ The Very Serious David Frum decided that us liberals need instructions on how to protest properly, so that we “scare” Trump. The premise is weak in and of itself if 45s Twitter feed is any indication; I think we’ve scared him already. But this was the paragraph which raised my ire:
Don’t get sucked into the futile squabbling cul-de-sac of intersectionality and grievance politics. Look at this roster of speakers from the January 21 march. What is Angela Davis doing there? Where are the military women, the women police officers, the officeholders? If Planned Parenthood is on the stage, pro-life women should stand there, too. If you want somebody to speak for immigrants, invite somebody who’s in the country lawfully.
I read this and heard the white male condescension loud and clear. I heard the dismissal of women, particularly women of color. (You know, the women who are the base of our party.) I heard the assumption that patriotism is the sole purview of the Right. I heard the call for the Left to play by rules made by male Republicans who know better by virtue of being…male Republicans. He apparently wrote this without any sense of irony; without any sense that what he is calling for is exactly what we are protesting against. Mr. Frum, I have a suggestion for you: less writing, more listening. That’s the polite version; I’m sure you all know what I’m actually thinking.
Oh, and by the way, here’s what Mr. Frum thought we shouldn’t hear:
Of course we need a fireplace for the AR CEO; a few more rocking chairs, and we’ll all fit.
As we start the migration and settling routine, which includes figuring out how things work, it’s becoming clear that we can help each other find the front door and arrange the furniture. To that end, this is a meta (and experimental) post as a means of figuring out “what’s next”.
If you are still having issues with gaining access, please hang a comment to JanF under her latest Community posting. This will help her by having everything all in the same place, rather than searching through all the posts. If you see a stray comment from someone needing help, please provide their name to JanF as above.
If you are willing and able to become one of the daily writers, but have not asked JanF for authorship rights, please do so. The usual method is suggested: hang your request from her latest Community post.
Reese has already committed to a Thursday post for next week (and maybe if we ask nicely, all Thursdays?) The goal for the time being should be one new diary per day; if our commenting becomes as prolific as at the other place, we can always look at scheduling more. The immediate need, however, is to get commitments and a schedule in place for the next week. Philly76 did yesterday, I am doing this for today, and I can do a Tuesday post…can anyone else volunteer?
I have been sending out kosmail to Village group members to alert them to our new home. I am about halfway through the list and will continue notifications next week. However, if you still have a foot in both places and see someone who you want to see here, please kosmail them too. I don’t think anyone will object to duplicate requests, but I don’t want our Village to shrink just because we forgot someone.
Is there anything else? If so, please include it in the comments…and as always, this is an open thread.
The Sun will never set on democracy and the pursuit of justice. We the selected few that have emerged from under the bus. We’ll continue the pursuit of truth and justice, to voice our diverse points of views that fuels our Village, it is time to rise like Phoenix from the ashes. The sleeping giant has been awoken by the a government based on Birchism,fascism and Racism. No Mas, we will not cow to the those who want to play nice or civil with the opposition. Let us not fool ourselves that we can , reason with nor negotiate with The Vagina Grabber In Chief. We’ll not surrender nor cave into the boorish behavior of a wannabe Dictator Oligarch.
Let’s mobilize and join those who have taken to the streets. It’s time for us to use our economic purchasing power to inflict the pain that these oligarch dictator and his followers understand, on their profit margins. I call for nationwide boycott of companies, individuals and organization that support this regime. I burnt all my New Balance shoes, refuse to watch anything with Jon Voight, Susan Sarandon, and others appear in.
We are in the precipice of seeing our World Order collapse into Anarchy, Led by our US of A.
Evening Live Blog — A Place for All to Come Together and Discuss the Day’s Events!
The days and weeks ahead are going to be a nightmare. Trump is going to try to destroy so much of the hard work the Obama Administration accomplished. We can not be passive, we must stand up and Resist. Resist the Repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Resist the De-funding of Plan Parenthood, Resist everything they want to tear apart… RESIST!
“Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined.Be hopeful. Be empowered. Lead by example with hope; never fear.”
— Michelle Obama
“When you’re knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on”
— Hillary Clinton