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Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Early life and Education
Jordan lived in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1950s, where he earned money for college as chauffeur to former mayor Robert Maddox. He was an honor graduate of David Tobias Howard High School. He graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, in 1957 . He earned a law degree at Howard University in 1960. He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities.
Legal career and activism
Jordan then returned to Atlanta to join the law office of Donald L. Hollowell, a civil rights activist. The firm, including Constance Motley, sued the University of Georgia for racist admission policies. The suit ended in 1961 with a Federal Court order demanding the admission of two African Americans, Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton E. Holmes. Jordan personally escorted Hunter past a group of angry white protesters to the university admissions office.
After leaving private law practice in the early 1960s, Jordan served as the Georgia field director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. From the NAACP he moved to the Southern Regional Council and then to the Voter Education Project.
In 1970, Jordan became executive director of the United Negro College Fund and was president of the National Urban League from 1971 to 1981.
On May 29, 1980, he was shot and seriously wounded outside the Marriott Inn in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Joseph Paul Franklin was acquitted in 1982 of charges of attempted murder, but in 1996 Franklin admitted to having committed the shooting. Then-president Jimmy Carter visited Jordan while he was recovering, an event that became the first story covered by the new network CNN.
Jordan resigned from the National Urban League, and he took a position as legal counsel with the Washington, D.C. office of the Dallas law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. While still with the National Urban League, Jordan in 1981 said of the Ronald Reagan administration:
“ I do not challenge the conservatism of this Administration. I do challenge its failure to exhibit a compassionate conservatism that adapts itself to the realities of a society ridden by class and race distinction. ”
Jordan, a friend and adviser to Bill Clinton, served as part of Clinton's transition team in 1992–1993, shortly after he was elected President.
Jordan controversially helped Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern, after she left the White House.On October 1, 2003, a United States court of appeals rejected Jordan's claim for reimbursement for legal services regarding Clinton's involvement with Lewinsky and Paula Jones. Jordan asked the government to pay him $302,719, but was paid only $1,215.
Since January 2000, Jordan has been Senior Managing Director with Lazard Freres & Co. LLC, an investment banking firm. He is also currently a member of the board of directors of multiple corporations, including American Express, J.C. Penney Corporation, Xerox, Asbury Automotive Group and the Dow Jones & Company. He is formerly a member of the board of directors of Revlon, Sara Lee, Corning and RJR Nabisco during 1989 leveraged buy-out fight between RJR Nabisco CEO F. Ross Johnson and Henry R. Kravis and his company KKR. A close friend of Jordan was the late Xerox tycoon Charles Peter McColough, who convinced Jordan to join the Board of Trustees at Xerox. McColough served as a mentor and friend of Jordan's until McColough's death.
In 2004, Jordan led debate preparation and negotiation efforts on behalf of John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for President.
In 2006, Jordan served as a member of the Iraq Study Group, which was formed to make recommendations on the U.S. policy in Iraq .
In May 2010, Jordan made a cameo appearance in the CBS television series, "The Good Wife"
Jordan is the son of Mary Jordan and Vernon E. Jordan Sr, and brother of Windsor. He is the cousin of James Shaw, who performs professionally billed as The Mighty Hannibal.
His first wife, Shirley (née Yarbrough), died in 1985. They have a daughter, Vickee Jordan Adams, who works in public relations at Hill & Knowlton. Since 1986, he has been married to Ann Dibble Jordan. He has nine grandchildren.
Jordan's memoir Vernon Can Read! was published in 2001. ISBN 1-891620-69-X
His most recent book is a collection of his public speeches, with commentary, called Make It Plain: Standing Up and Speaking Out" (Public Affairs, 2008).
Awards and Memberships
Jordan is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Barnard College, at its 1983 commencement ceremonies, awarded Jordan its highest honor, the Barnard Medal of Distinction.
He was awarded the Spingarn Medal in 2001.