Barbara Jordan was an activist in the Civil Rights Movement and an American lawyer and politician.

She was the first African-American woman elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first Southern African-American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives. She was a Democrat.

Jordan is most remembered for her eloquent opening speech at the House Judiciary Committee hearings on Richard Nixon’s impeachment.

Among many other awards, she earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Jordan is well renowned for her work as head of the United States Commission on Immigration Reform, which proposed a one-third reduction in legal immigration.

We have compiled some of the most popular quotes from Barbara Jordan for you.


Best Barbara Jordan Quotes

It does not matter where you came from, or who your parents were. What counts is who you are. ~ Barbara Jordan.

One thing is clear to me: We as human beings must be willing to accept people who are different from ourselves. ~ Barbara Jordan.

A nation is formed by the willingness of each of us to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good. ~ Barbara Jordan.

We must not become the new puritans and reject our society. We must address and master the future together. It can be done if we restore the belief that we share a sense of national community, that we share a common national endeavor. It can be done. ~ Barbara Jordan.

The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport. ~ Barbara Jordan.

All my growth and development led me to believe that if you really do the right thing, and if you play by the rules, that you’re going to be able to do whatever you want to do with your life. ~ Barbara Jordan.

What we have to do is strike a balance between the idea that government should do everything and the idea, the belief, that government ought to do nothing. Strike a balance. ~ Barbara Jordan.

Life is too large to hang out a sign: ‘For Men Only.’ ~ Barbara Jordan.

Let there be no illusions about the difficulty of forming this kind of a national community. It’s tough, difficult, not easy. But a spirit of harmony will survive in America only if each of us remembers that we share a common destiny. ~ Barbara Jordan.

Justice of right is always to take precedence over might. ~ Barbara Jordan.

I would have to work harder, and study longer, than anybody else. ~ Barbara Jordan.

Throw away your crutches and quit complaining because you are black. ~ Barbara Jordan.

The imperative is to define what is right and do it. ~ Barbara Jordan.

We must exchange the philosophy of excuse – what I am is beyond my control for the philosophy of responsibility. ~ Barbara Jordan.

It is reason, and not passion, which must guide our deliberations, guide our debate, and guide our decision. ~ Barbara Jordan.

Education remains the key to both economic and political empowerment. ~ Barbara Jordan.

Just remember the world is not a playground but a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday but an education. One eternal lesson for us all: to teach us how better we should love. ~ Barbara Jordan. 

I believe that women have a capacity for understanding and compassion which man structurally does not have, does not have it because he cannot have it. He’s just incapable of it. ~ Barbara Jordan.

If you’re going to play the game properly you’d better know every rule. ~ Barbara Jordan.

I live a day at a time. Each day I look for a kernel of excitement. In the morning, I say: ‘What is my exciting thing for today?’ Then, I do the day. Don’t ask me about tomorrow. ~ Barbara Jordan.

There is no obstacle in the path of young people who are poor or members of minority groups that hard work and preparation cannot cure. ~ Barbara Jordan.

The greatest motivation… has to come from inside you. ~ Barbara Jordan.

Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap. ~ Barbara Jordan.

If you are politically inclined you may be President of the United States. ~ Barbara Jordan.

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference is no democracy. ~ Barbara Jordan.

For all of its uncertainty, we cannot flee the future. ~ Barbara Jordan.

Ethical behavior means being honest, telling the truth, and doing what you said you would do. ~ Barbara Jordan.

If there are any patriots left in this country, then I am one. ~ Barbara Jordan.

A government is invigorated when each of us is willing to participate in shaping the future of this nation. ~ Barbara Jordan.

I really do not have much interest in being a symbol. ~ Barbara Jordan.

Let each person do his or her part. If one citizen is unwilling to participate, all of us are going to suffer. For the American idea, though it is shared by all of us, is realized in each one of us. ~ Barbara Jordan.

I am a Texan; my roots are in Texas. To leave would be a cop-out. ~ Barbara Jordan.

I don’t have an accent. I just talk like me. I have talked this way as long as I can remember. ~ Barbara Jordan.

You have got to be able to love yourself – love yourself strongly, and not let anybody disabuse you of your self-respect. ~ Barbara Jordan.

I’m not a professional black or professional woman, but a professional legislator. ~ Barbara Jordan.

If you are so focused on self, you cannot have any awareness of the common good. ~ Barbara Jordan.

Ethical behavior means being honest, telling the truth, and doing what you said you would do. ~ Barbara Jordan.

The conditions under which we live are rapidly changing, and the very process of change makes it all the more difficult to find answers. ~ Barbara Jordan.

We have a positive vision of the future founded on the belief that the gap between the promise and reality of America can one day be finally closed. We believe that. ~ Barbara Jordan.

Even as I stand here and admit that we have made mistakes I still believe that as the people of America sit in judgment on each party, they will recognize that our mistakes were mistakes of the heart. They’ll recognize that. ~ Barbara Jordan.

Do not call for black power or green power. Call for brain power. ~ Barbara Jordan.

If you respect differences, you will also respect the ability of other thoughtful people to struggle internally with a problem and come to an answer that is somewhat different than your own. ~ Barbara Jordan.

Let’s all understand that these guiding principles cannot be discarded for short-term political gains. They represent what this country is all about. They are indigenous to the American idea. And these are principles which are not negotiable. ~ Barbara Jordan.

I never intended to become a run-of-the-mill person. ~ Barbara Jordan.

If the society today allows wrongs to go unchallenged, the impression is created that those wrongs have the approval of the majority. ~ Barbara Jordan.

We are a party of innovation. We do not reject our traditions, but we are willing to adapt to changing circumstances, when change we must. We are willing to suffer the discomfort of change in order to achieve a better future. ~ Barbara Jordan.

If we promise as public officials, we must deliver. If we as public officials propose, we must produce. ~ Barbara Jordan.

We call ourselves public servants but I’ll tell you this: we as public servants must set an example for the rest of the nation. It is hypocritical for the public official to admonish and exhort the people to uphold the common good. ~ Barbara Jordan.

You must understand that I have a tremendous faith in my own capacity. ~ Barbara Jordan.

I’m not long on patience. Sometimes I’m more abrupt with people than I ought to be. I always regret it afterward. ~ Barbara Jordan.

I think it no accident that most of those emigrating to America in the 19th century identified with the Democratic Party. We are a heterogeneous party made up of Americans of diverse backgrounds. ~ Barbara Jordan.

No one need be afraid. No one need be afraid that officers who commit oppression will pass with immunity. ~ Barbara Jordan.

I have confidence that we can form this kind of national community. ~ Barbara Jordan.

We are a people in a quandary about the present. We are a people in search of our future. ~ Barbara Jordan.

We believe in equality for all and privileges for none. ~ Barbara Jordan.

What the people want is very simple. They want an America as good as its promise. ~ Barbara Jordan.


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