Jordan, Vernon Eulion, Jr.

Jordan, Vernon Eulion, Jr., 1935–2021, African-American civil-rights leader and lawyer, b. Atlanta, Ga., DePauw Univ. (BA, 1957), Howard Univ. Law School (JD, 1960). Jordan’s father was a postal worker and his mother a caterer. After graduating law school, he worked as a clerk to Donald Lee Hollowell, focusing on civil rights cases and then joined the NAACP as a field director for Georgia. In 1970, he was named executive director of the United Negro College Fund, and then president of the National Urban League a year later. In 1980, Jordan was wounded by a sniper in Fort Wayne, IN.; the gunman was found not guilty at trial, but later convicted on other murder charges, In 1982, Jordan returned to private practice in Washington, D.C., as a member of a law firm headed by Robert Strauss, who had formerly chaired the Democratic National Committee. In 1992, he was head of the transition team for incoming president Bill Clinton, for whom he became an influential adviser. Besides his legal work, Jordan served on several corporate boards. In 2001, he was awarded the Springarn Medal by the NAACP for lifetime achievement.

See V. Jordan, with A. Gordon-Reed, Vernon Can Read! (2001, memoir); Make It Plain: Standing Up and Speaking Out (2008, speeches and essays);Vernon Jordan: Make It Plain (2020, documentary film).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Social Reformers