Barbara Jordan was born on February 21, 1936 in Houston, Texas. She had 2 sisters, and her parents were Reverend Benjamin, a Baptist minister, and Arlyn Jordan. Her mother was a great orator, or speaker, but did not pursue a career, and instead devoted herself to being a wife and mother. Her mother "was the most eloquent, articulate person I ever heard. If she had been a man, she would have been a preacher." Barbara inherited her great oratorical skills from her father and mother.
Barbara's grandfather, John Ed Patten, introduced her to literature and philosophy and helped her improve her speaking skills. She attended Phillis Wheatley High School and participated in debates and public speaking engagements. She was the first place winner at the National Ushers Convention Oratorical Contest in Chicago, Illinois. Barbara received the Girl of the Year Award and became a well-known and respected public speaker throughout Texas.
In 1952, Barbara enrolled in Texas Southern University (TSU). Her tutor was Dr. Thomas Freeman, the University's debate coach. She attributed much of my success as a speaker to him. "I thought I had superb diction and that no one would need to correct anything. Thomas Freeman found a flaw, and worked on it until it was corrected. I cannot overestimate the impact and influence Dr. Freeman had on my life." In 1956, She graduated from TSU with honors.
After graduating from TSU, She attended Boston University Law School and graduated in 1959. Barbara passed both the Massachusetts and Texas bar examinations and set up a law practice in my parents' kitchen. After saving enough money, she moved her firm to the Fifth Ward, an African American section of Houston.
In 1966, Barbara ran for the Texas Senate and won the Democratic Primary with over 60 percent of the...