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Meet the Negro Texan

San Antonio Public Library

Sound | 1970s

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  •  Then Texas State Senator Barbara Jordan introduces influential black Texans 
  •  Figures of the Texas Revolution, including Samuel McCulloch 
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In this short educational film from the 1970s, then Texas Senator Barbara Jordan reviews the contributions of numerous black Texans to the history and life of the Lone Star State. She first highlights prominent state legislators such as William Burton, William H. Holland, and George T. Ruby. Next, Jordan praises the heroism of several black Texans during the Texas Revolution, including Greenbury Logan, Kendrick Arnold, Samuel McCulloch, and William Goyens. Please note that the film uses dated language to describe African Americans, indicative of the time in which it was produced. The Texas Archive of the Moving Image does not condone the use of the term “negro,” but presents this film as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as to claim this term never existed.

Barbara Jordan was born in Houston's Fifth Ward in 1936, the daughter of a Baptist minister and domestic worker. Jordan attended Texas Southern University where she was a member of the debate team; she was the first woman to travel with the team, and along with debate partner Otis King, integrated tournaments in the South, consistently sweeping competitions. Jordan went on attend Boston University School of Law, finishing in 1959.

After practicing private law in Houston, again with Otis King, she entered the political arena. Jordan was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate since 1883 and the first southern black female elected to the United States House of Representatives. In 1976, Jordan was the first African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, a speech that is still lauded as one of the best in modern history.

After retiring from politics in 1979, Jordan taught ethics at the University of Texas at Austin's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Among many other honors, Jordan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994. In 1996, Barbara Jordan died of complications from pneumonia, a result of her battles with both multiple sclerosis and leukemia. She rests in the Texas State Cemetery, the first African-American woman to be buried there.