By Diane Holloway
Every year people ask (or silently wonder) why our fundraising gala is named after Barbara Jordan. What is Trinity Center’s connection to the late Texas public servant and University of Texas law professor? Newcomers and non-Texans may also wonder who she was and why her statue graces Austin’s airport.
Ms. Jordan, who died in 1996 and would have turned 80 this year, was a pioneer in American politics, known for her passion for civil rights, compassion for the downtrodden, commanding intellect and breathtaking eloquence. She pronounced every syllable of every spoken word and, as the New York Times obituary proclaimed, had “a voice that stirred a nation” as a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate impeachment hearings.
Born in Houston, Ms. Jordan was a tireless crusader for the poor throughout her life — in public and in private. When she died, her will designated a significant portion of her estate to help people experiencing homelessness, and Trinity Center, in its planning stages, became the lucky beneficiary. Besides naming our fundraising event after her, we also named the main room of the center The Barbara Jordan Hall. A plaque over the executive director’s office bears the following quotation: “Define what is right and do it!”