Words Matter


Final Word: Barbara Jordan on Impeachment

Season 2

Barbara Jordan was a lawyer educator politician and a leader of the civil rights movement a Democrat and Houston native. Jordan was the first African-American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first southern African-American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives.

On July 25th 1974 Congresswoman Jordan delivered a televised opening statement as the House Judiciary Committee began consideration of articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. It is regarded by historians as one of the greatest speeches in all of American history. Congresswoman Jordan offered a passionate and powerful defense of the United States Constitution. A document, she noted, did not include people like her when it was written and completed in 1787.

Congresswoman Jordan also provided thoughtful and well documented explanations of our system of checks and balances which were designed to stop any politician from abusing their power. She stuck to the facts and the law and noted the seriousness and the solemn duty she and her fellow members were about to undertake. As she quoted extensively from the founders Congresswoman Jordan explained that those who had drafted and ratified the Constitution anticipated actions like Nixon's and had created the check of impeachment to guard against such executive overreach and abuse of office. So this week we give Congresswoman Barbara Jordan the Final Word.

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