Civil Rights Icon Vernon Jordan Dies at 85 – BlackPressUSA

From Stacy M. Brown, Senior National Correspondent, NNPA Newswire

Vernon Jordan, the former National Urban League president and civil rights activist, has died at the age of 85.

Vickee Jordan Adams, the icon’s daughter, confirmed his death Tuesday.

“My father died around 10 p.m. last night, surrounded by loved ones, his wife and daughter, by his side,” said Adams in a statement.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson said the world has lost an influential figure in the struggle for civil rights and American politics.

“As an icon of the world and a lifelong friend of the NAACP, his contribution to moving our society toward justice is unparalleled,” said Johnson.

“In 2001, Jordan received the NAACP Spingarn Medal for a lifetime for social justice. His exemplary life will shine as a directional light for all who search for truth and justice for all people. “

Karen Bass, D-Calif., Chair of the Black Caucus in Congress added, “Jordan fought for decades to promote civil rights in this country. His contributions – first as an activist against segregation and discrimination in the 1960s, and later continuing the struggle in the leadership of the NAACP, the United Negro College Fund, and then as President of the National Urban League – benefited us all. “

The Congresswoman continued:

As chairman of the Black Caucus of Congress, I had the absolutely humble honor of meeting Mr. Jordan several times to discuss the challenges of our time, but also our hope and optimism for the future. While Mr. Jordan is no longer with us, we continue this struggle surrounded by thousands inspired by his work and leadership. My thoughts go with Mr. Jordan’s family and the many friends who mourn his loss with me. “

Jordan was born in Atlanta on August 15, 1935, a Washington attorney and realtor.

He attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he was the only African American student in his class.

According to his biography published by The HistoryMakers, Jordan participated in DePauw’s student senate and won national awards in speech competitions.

He played basketball and graduated in 1957.

In 1960 he earned a JD from Howard University School of Law.

Jordan returned to Atlanta and began his legal career with the civil rights movement.

“In 1961 he helped organize the integration of the University of Georgia and personally escorted student Charlayne Hunter through a hostile white crowd,” noted the HistoryMakers.

They continued:

“Over the next ten years, Jordan held various positions as a civil rights advocate. He has served as Secretary of State for the NAACP in Georgia, director of the Southern Regional Council’s Voter Education Project, director of the United Negro College Fund, and delegate to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s White House Conference on Civil Rights. “

In 1971, Jordan was named President and CEO of the National Urban League to help grow the organization.

On May 29, 1980, a white supremacist tried to kill Jordan.

After a successful recovery, Jordan resigned from the National Urban League in 1981 to work as a legal advisor in the Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld Washington, DC office.

His active practice includes corporations, lawmakers, and international clients, HistoryMakers researchers found.

Jordan’s close friend is former President Bill Clinton, and during Clinton’s presidency Jordan became one of Washington’s most influential brokers, the researchers found.

He was also a partner in the New York investment firm Lazard Frere & Company.

In 2001, Jordan published his autobiography, “Vernon Can Read!” And authored a weekly newspaper column that was distributed to more than 300 newspapers and was a frequent television guest and commentator.

“I mourn my friend, the extraordinary Vernon Jordan,” wrote Stacey Abrams on Twitter.

“He fought the demons of voter suppression and racial degradation and won more than he lost. He brought others with him. And left a card so more could find their way. Love for his family. Travel on with God’s grace. “

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