What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan by Chris Barton, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?
The Story of Extraordinary
Congresswoman Barbara Jordan
Purchased with grant funding for my school library
What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan is a picture book biography of the first African American woman elected to the Texas Senate and the first Southern African American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives. Born in 1936 in Houston, Texas, Jordan attended Phillis Wheatley High School where a visit from lawyer Edith Sampson inspired her future. An unforgettable public speaker with a powerful voice, Jordan first ran for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives at age twenty-six and lost. In 1964, she ran and lost again, finally winning a seat in 1966. During the impeachment trial of President Nixon, millions of television viewers watched Jordan state her belief in the judiciary committee, the Constitution, and the belief that the President's actions violated the Constitution.
Although she did not make it public for many years, Jordan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1973. Despite this, she went on to deliver the keynote speech at the 1976 Democratic National Convention and again at the 1992 convention. She played an important part in the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, battling for ballots to not be restricted to English language only. In 1979, Jordan returned to the private sector to teach graduate students public policy and ethics in government at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. Jordan returned to politics in 1993 when President Clinton appointed her chair of the bipartisan Commission on Immigration Reform. In 1994, President Clinton awarded Jordan the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1996, Barbara Jordan passed away in Austin after suffering multiple sclerosis, leukemia and pneumonia. A statue of Barbara Jordan stands on the campus of the University of Texas, Austin and in the Austin airport, commemorating this important American whose tombstone reads "Patriot" on one side and "Teacher "on the other.
While not named in the text of the book, Barbara Jordan's lifelong companion, psychologist Nancy Earl, appears in an illustration. In the Author's Note, which includes an extensive timeline, the role Earl played in Jordan's life is clear.