The great voice still sounds

by Ericka Schiche

It resonates. It is a voice that echoes in the political vortex. A voice that somehow injects vivacity into the somewhat moribund body politic.

Even if Barbara Jordan was the embodiment of the phrase "Vox et Praetarea Nihil" (voice and nothing more), somehow I would not have been too disappointed. In these times when the modality of dehumanization, estrangement and displacement has become so significant, Jordan still had faith in the concept of "E Pluribus Unum" (From many, One).

As many of you probably learned only yesterday -- remember, it's never too late to learn -- she also, rather ironically, had faith in the Constitution: "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."

I use the term "ironically" to highlight the fact that she transcended the term "marginalized," yet never forgot that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton left her out by mistake. She also noted she was eventually included (in "We the People")"through the process of amendment, interpretation and court decision." She was left out by design, not by mistake, as a Jordan biographer wrote.

Since her death, many people have commented on the integral role she played in the 1974 House Judiciary Committee proceedings concerning unethical behavior of then-President, Richard M. Nixon. Unlike most elected officials, she didn't just employ rhetoric. She cited Federalist Paper No. 65, North and South Carolina and Virginia Ratification Conventions on the subject of impeachment in her juxtaposition of Nixon's actions with impeachment criteria.

It would be an egregious mistake, however, to ignore Jordan's other triumphs in the name of equity, parity and justice. Legislation she authored engendered the Texas Fair Employment Practices Commission, progressive worker's compensation laws, and the state's first minimum wage law designed specifically for laborers, domestics, laundry employees, and others. Suffice it to say she was the last of the real public servants.

She was always concerned about ameliorating the conditions of the poor, and most of the 35 bills she sponsored or co-sponsored while a member of the Texas Senate illustrated her concern.

Jordan joined the Democratic Party, which had fought tenaciously in the courts to exclude blacks at the state and local levels of elected office. Jordan's presence helped strengthen the party and encourage the disillusioned. She also championed voting rights for Mexican-Americans and extension of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Jordan's presence encouraged me to become a lawyer. Though I never got the chance to shake her hand, I feel obligated to pay my last respects.

Mainly, though, what I am left with is the memory of that inimitable voice.

Schiche is a senior English major.

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