Airing Jordan

barbara-jordan.jpgToday at 11am, KUT (90.5) will air a 1-hour retrospective on the remarkable life of Barbara Jordan. In “Revisiting Barbara Jordan,” listeners will be able to hear first-hand through speeches and interviews the intellect and integrity that made her a trailblazing politician, a cornerstone of the Watergate hearings, and an icon for political rectitude.

Ten years after her passing, her words and beliefs have never been more relevant. Those who treat civil liberties as an obligatory footnote to public policy, to be ignored when inconvenient, should be forced to listen to this program. Perhaps they’d be reminded that the Constitution is only worth defending if it is observed and respected in the process.

It’s also significant that this program comes during Black History Month. From her youth during segregation to her groundbreaking role as an African American in the Texas Senate and US House, race played an integral part in both her life and her legacy. Her experience formed the foundation for her most famous quote during the Nixon impeachment hearings:

Earlier today we heard the beginning of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, “We, the people”. It is a very eloquent beginning. But when that document was completed, on the seventeenth of September in 1787, I was not included in that “We, the people”. I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake. But through the process of amendment, interpretation, and court decision I have finally been included in “We, the people.”

Today I am an inquisitor. I believe hyperbole would not be fictional and would not overstate the solemnness that I feel right now. My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.

The full speech, which includes a dissection of impeachment as a check on “a president swollen with power,” is available here in text and streaming content.

After her public service came to a close, Barbara Jordan continued to inspire and enrich Austin through her lectures at the LBJ School, membership on corporate boards, and public appearances, all despite the continued burden of Multiple Sclerosis. She left us too early on January 17, 1996, but there are few who are more deserving of our remembrance. If you miss today’s broadcast, it will likely be available as a podcast.

photo swiped from KUT, with original credit given to Life’s 1976 Special Report on “Remarkable American Women: 1776-1976 (p. 19). Photographic credits belong to Fred Maroon and Louis Mercier,© 1974. Courtesy Alta Keynote Images.

Update: The broadcast is now available as a streaming or downloadable .mp3 and Real media file. There’s also a full transcript for those who dig on print.

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