The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.

Share on Social Media

Information about Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.

Profile image of Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Nonprofit Chief Executive
Civil Rights Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
8/15/1935
Birth Location:
Atlanta, Georgia

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Nonprofit Chief Executive
Civil Rights Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
8/15/1935
Birth Location:
Atlanta
See how Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Lawyer and Washington power broker Vernon Jordan was born on August 15, 1935, in Atlanta. Graduating with honors from David T. Howard High School in 1953, he went on to attend DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he was the only African American student in his class. At DePauw, Jordan participated in the student senate, won statewide honors in speaking competitions, played basketball and graduated in 1957. He then entered Howard University School of Law, receiving his J.D. in 1960.

Jordan returned to Atlanta starting his legal career working with the civil rights movement. In 1961, he helped organize the integration of the University of Georgia and personally escorted student Charlayne Hunter through a hostile white crowd. Over the next ten years, Jordan held various positions as a civil rights advocate. He served as the Georgia field secretary for the NAACP; director of the Voter Education Project for the Southern Regional Council; head of the United Negro College Fund; and as a delegate to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s White House Conference on Civil Rights.

In 1971, Jordan was appointed president and CEO of the National Urban League, where he spearheaded the organization’s growth. On May 29, 1980, a white supremacist attempted to kill Jordan. After a successful recuperation, in 1981 Jordan resigned from the National Urban League to take a position as legal council with the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld. His active practice includes corporate, legislative and international clients. Jordan's close friend is former President Bill Clinton and during Clinton's presidency, Jordan became one of Washington’s most influential power brokers. Currently he is a partner in the investment firm of Lazard Frere & Company in New York.

Jordan has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the Alexis de Tocqueville Award from the United Way of America in 1977 for his dedication to volunteerism. In 2001, Jordan published his autobiography, Vernon Can Read! to widespread praise. He has also authored a weekly newspaper column syndicated to more than 300 newspapers and serves as a frequent television guest and commentator. Jordan is an active on various corporate boards and has had various presidential appointments.

Jordan and his wife, Ann, reside in Washington, D.C. and have four children.

Jordan was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 24, 2003.

See how Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Vernon Jordan interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Vernon Jordan's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Vernon Jordan discusses his father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Vernon Jordan describes his mother's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Vernon Jordan recalls his mother's successful catering business
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Vernon Jordan describes the University Homes, Atlanta's first public housing project for blacks
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Vernon Jordan remembers his childhood in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Vernon Jordan describes his two brothers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Vernon Jordan discusses his mother's relationship with her sons
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Vernon Jordan describes Sunday traditions during his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Vernon Jordan describes his school life at Walker Street Elementary School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Vernon Jordan describes enjoyable moments during his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Vernon Jordan talks about the role of Atlanta's Butler Street YMCA in his upbringing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Vernon Jordan shares his college aspirations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Vernon Jordan attends college at DePauw University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Vernon Jordan discusses his parents' different approaches to mentoring
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Vernon Jordan considers which of his attributes come from his father and his mother
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Vernon Jordan describes his experience at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vernon Jordan discusses a racist employer's idea that black people could not be lawyers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Vernon Jordan recalls his tenure at Howard University's Law School, Washington, D.C.