Democratic powerbroker and civil rights leader Vernon Jordan died on Monday, March 1 at age 85, surrounded by his wife and family, CNN reported.
A close ally of President Bill Clinton, Jordan was a longtime D.C. insider and former president of the National Urban League. He rose to prominence as an activist, becoming close to several Democratic presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama. Clinton tapped Jordan as chairman of his 1992 presidential transition team. Jordan also worked with Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.
The National Urban League remembered Jordan on Twitter. “Mr. Jordan was one of our nation’s greatest champions of racial & economic justice, and our organization would not be where it is today without him.”
Jordan encouraged others to take up activism.
Speaking at Stanford University in 2015, Jordan told graduates to use their skills, knowledge, and drive to become “disturbers of the unjust peace.”
“I urge you to embrace this responsibility – this obligation – to be disturbers of the unjust peace,” he said. “And do it, as it has always been done, through the slow, steady, tedious process of changing hearts and minds – one person, one organization, one institution – at a time.”
Despite this advice, Jordan never seemed to be pro-reparations. According to the book “Long Overdue: The Politics of Radial Reparations” by Charles P. Henry, Jordan said he didn’t think much about reparations because “he didn’t need the money and it wasn’t going to happen.”
Born on Aug. 15, 1935, Jordan grew up in the segregated South. He graduated from DePauw University in 1957, the only Black student in his class. He then studied law at Howard University and launched his law career with a lawsuit against the University of Georgia’s integration policy in 1961 on behalf of two Black students.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.
Jordan also made inroads on Wall Street. He was a senior managing director of an investment banking firm and had no qualms about politicians developing relationships with big finance.
When asked by the Financial Times about Hillary Clinton’s coziness with high finance, Jordan answered, “It is not a crime to be close to Wall Street. If you are a politician, you have to have relationships with every kind of entity.”