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By Kate X Messer and Ash Bell, April 24, 2009, Columns

THE QUEENDOM OF JORDAN She was Houston born and an alum of Texas Southern (where she was a national debate champ). She studied law at Boston U and passed the bar in Massachusetts and Texas in the same year. She worked on JFK's campaign. After winning her election in 1966, she was the first African-American woman elected to the Texas Senate. That was just the first of her firsts. In 1972, she was elected president pro tempore of the Texas Senate – the first African-American woman to preside over a legislative body in the United States. Later that year, she became the first African-American woman to be elected to the United States House of Representatives from a Southern state. She was instrumental in the Watergate hearings (1974), where the world was introduced to this erudite Texas lady. Two years later, she gave a stirring and memorable keynote address at the Democratic National Convention – the first woman and African-American ever to do so. And friends, she was family. Barbara Charline Jordan, we learned after her passing in 1996, shared her life with partner Nancy Earl since the 1960s. As the statue to honor Ms. Jordan is unveiled this week on the campus where she taught (see Friday), let's all commit to making a safe society for all people, so we may live openly with the loves of our lives.

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