On the other side of ‘no’


Life is not a straight road. There are ups and downs, unexpected twists and turns. There are successes and failures, “yeses” and “noes.”

Note, you decide what is on the other side of “no.”

Meet Barbara Charline Jordan, an attorney, politician, and educator. Jordan lived from February 21, 1936, through January 17, 1996. She made history, even in death, by being the first African-American woman to be buried in the Texas State Cemetery.

In 1956, Jordan graduated magma cum laude from Texas Southern University. Segregation was a barrier in her attending the University of Texas at Austin. She did not, however, let that “no” stop her from obtaining a college degree which led to her becoming an attorney.

Soon after graduating from Boston University School of Law in 1959, Jordan taught at the Tuskegee Institute. After that, she started a private law practice before deciding to run for political office.

In 1962 and in 1964, Jordan did not win in her first two political attempts. Met with disappointment, she was determined to discover what was on the other side of “no.” There, she found the makings of history.

In 1966, by winning a seat in the Texas Senate, Jordan became the first African-American state senator since 1883. More history soon followed. Jordan became the first African American to preside over the state’s legislative body. In addition, she was the first African-American state senator to chair a major committee, namely the Committee on Labor and Management Relations. Furthermore, Jordan was the first freshman state senator to be named to the Texas Legislative Council.

In 1972, Jordan was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas’ 18th Congressional District. This victory made her the first African American to represent Texas after Reconstruction.

Likewise, her congressional victory made her the first African American woman to represent a southern state in Congress. While in Congress, Jordan sponsored and/or co-sponsored over 300 bills and or resolutions, including the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

While serving on the House Judiciary Committee during President Richard Nixon’s impeachment hearing, Jordan gained national attention. This led to her being asked and delivering the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 1976 and again in 1992. Jordan made history in 1976 by becoming the first African American woman to speak at a major political convention.

Keisha Bell

Keisha Bell

None of this would have happened had Jordan not persevered to see what was on the other side of “no.” She broke barriers which made it easier for others to follow. Are you following?

Keisha Bell is an attorney, author, and public servant. www.emergingfree.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

scroll to top