In 2022, the Texas Department of Insurance moved from the William P. Hobby Jr. State Office Building in downtown Austin to the new Barbara Jordan State Office Building just north of the Capitol. Learn about the building's namesake.
Barbara Jordan, the first black Texas woman to serve in the Texas Senate and U.S. House, grew up in Houston. She graduated magna cum laude from Texas Southern University and earned a law degree from Boston University.
Jordan twice ran unsuccessfully across Harris County for the Texas House before lawmakers were required to draw population-proportional single-member districts. In 1966, voters elected Jordan to the Texas Senate. She stayed in the 31-member body until voters sent her to Congress in 1972.
Jordan’s stature as a renowned orator gained momentum in 1974 with her opening statement in televised hearings on the Watergate scandal. She said that night: “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.”
After Jordan left the House in 1979, she taught at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. In the 1990s, she served as ethics “czar” for Gov. Ann Richards. “Ethical behavior,” Jordan said, “means being honest, telling the truth, and doing what you said you would do.” On her death in 1996, she was buried near Stephen F. Austin at the Texas State Cemetery. She was its first black occupant.
The 2021 Texas Legislature directed the Texas Facilities Commission to name the state office building being built on the east side of North Congress Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets after Jordan.
More: Barbara Charline Jordan entry in the Handbook of Texas
“Barbara Jordan, Speaking the Truth With Eloquent Thunder,” edited by Max Sherman, University of Texas Press, 2007
“Barbara Jordan, American Hero,” Mary Beth Rogers, Bantam Books, 1998
Photo courtesy of Texas Senate Media Services.