Jordan, Vernon E. (Vernon Eulion), 1935-2021

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Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr. (August 15, 1935 – March 1, 2021) was an American business executive and civil rights activist who worked for Civil Rights Movement organizations before being chosen by President Bill Clinton as his close adviser.

Born in Atlanta, Jordan grew up with his family in the segregated societal cosmos of Atlanta. An honors graduate of David T. Howard High School, he matriculated to DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, graduating in 1957, the only black student in a class of 400. He earned a J.D. degree at Howard University School of Law in 1960. He was a member of the Omega Psi Phi and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities.

Jordan 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 racial discrimination in its 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 became directly involved in activism in the field, serving 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. He was president of the National Urban League from 1971 to 1981.

Jordan resigned from the Urban League in 1981, taking a position as legal counsel for the Washington, D.C. firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, and Feld. While there Jordan took many prominent clients, including Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. In 1992, Jordan was chosen by President-elect Clinton to lead his transition team. Jordan later served as an advisor for President Clinton, becoming one of his closest friends and political allies. In 1999, Jordan testified before Congress during President Clinton’s impeachment trial regarding the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

From January 2000 on, Jordan was a senior managing director with Lazard Freres & Co. LLC, an investment banking firm. He was also a member of the board of directors of multiple corporations, including American Express, J.C. Penney Corporation, Asbury Automotive Group, and the Dow Jones & Company.

In the 2004 presidential campaign, Jordan led debate preparation and negotiation efforts on behalf of John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president. That year he was elected president of The Economic Club of Washington, D.C.. In 2006, Jordan served as a member of the Iraq Study Group, which was formed to make recommendations on U.S. policy in Iraq.

Jordan died at his home in Washington, D.C. on March 1, 2021 at the age of 85.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Branton, Wiley A. Papers, 1946-1989. Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
referencedIn President's Daily Diary (Ford Administration). 1974 - 1977. Gerald R. Ford's Daily Diary
referencedIn Johnson, Frank M. (Frank Minis), 1918-1999. Frank M. Johnson papers, 1945-1989 (bulk 1955-1986). Library of Congress
referencedIn Goodwin, George,. Goodwin party oral history interview, 1977 July 25. Georgia State University
referencedIn Records of the Office of Communications (Clinton Administration), 1993 - 2001. Don Baer's Files, 1994 - 1997 William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum
referencedIn New York Times Company records. A.M. Rosenthal papers, 1955-1994, 1967-1986 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn President Gerald R. Ford Greeting Roy Wilkins, Vernon Jordan, and Others Prior to the Signing Ceremony for H.R. 6219, Extending the Voting Rights Act of 1965 Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn United Negro College Fund. Officers and directors: President and Chief Executive Officer, 1935-1980. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Weston, M. Moran, 1910-. Papers, 1824-1994. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Records of the Office of Speechwriting (Clinton Administration), 1993 - 2001Series: James (Terry) Edmonds' Files, 1995 - 2001 William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum
referencedIn McCoy, Charles Brelsford, 1909-1995. Papers, 1967-1974. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Harvard Law School Forums Records Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Fleming, Harold C. Harold C. Fleming papers, 1950-1993 (bulk 1961-1987). Library of Congress
referencedIn Flanagan, Robert B., 1929-. Robert B. Flanagan oral history interviews (part II), 1988 Nov. 10 and 1989 Jan. 9. Georgia State University
referencedIn Harold C. Fleming Papers, 1950-1993, (bulk 1961-1987) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Roddey E. Mims Collection. 1976 - 1982. Roddey E. Mims' Files, 1976-1982 Jimmy Carter Library
creatorOf Urban League of Pittsburgh (Pa.). Urban League of Pittsburgh audio-visual collection 1968-1993 bulk 1989-1993. Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Heinz History Center Detre Library and Archives
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Public Liaison (Clinton Administration), 1993 - 2001. Alexis Herman's Files , ca. 1993 - ca. 1996 William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum
referencedIn Guide to the Daily Worker and Daily World Photographs Collection, 1920-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Martin, Louis, 1912-. Louis Martin papers, 1931-1998 (bulk 1977-1993). Library of Congress
creatorOf Urban League of Pittsburgh (Pa.). Urban League of Pittsburgh photographs 1948-1995 bulk 1979-1990. Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Heinz History Center Detre Library and Archives
referencedIn Records of the First Lady's Office (Carter Administration), 1977 - 1981Series: Kathy Cade's Project Office Subject Files, 1977 - 1981 Jimmy Carter Library
referencedIn Frank M. Johnson Papers, 1945-1989, (bulk 1955-1986) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Presidential Files. 1977 - 1981. 2/16/77 [1] Jimmy Carter Library
creatorOf Jordan, Vernon E. (Vernon Eulion), 1935-. Reminiscences of Vernon Eulion Jordan, Jr. : oral history, 1980. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Jordan, Vernon E. (Vernon Eulion), 1935-. Reminiscences of Vernon Eulion Jordan, Jr. : oral history, 1981. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Patricia Harris Papers, 1924-1983, (bulk 1977-1980) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Presidential Files. 1977 - 1981. 6/3/80 [3]
creatorOf Benedict College. College publications, 1970-1990. Benedict College, Benjamin F. Payton Learning Resources Center
referencedIn General Faculty and Faculty Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1799-2011 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. University Archives and Records Service
referencedIn M. Moran Weston Papers, 1824-1994 Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
referencedIn R. Buckminster Fuller papers, ca. 1920-1983 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Presidential Files. 1977 - 1981. 8/15/78
referencedIn National Urban League Records, 1900-1988, (bulk 1930-1979) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn General Records of the Department of Justice, 1790 - 2002. Subject Files of the Associate Attorney General, 1/1981 - 1993 National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Sound Recordings of Meetings and Telephone Conversations (Nixon Administration). 2/16/1971 - 7/18/1973. Sound Recordings of Meetings and Telephone Conversations. 2/16/1971 - 7/18/1973. Oval Office tape number 529
referencedIn Maloof, Manuel,. Manuel Maloof oral history interviews, 1994 June 13 and 15. Georgia State University
creatorOf Urban League of Pittsburgh (Pa.). Urban League of Pittsburgh records 1918-1996 bulk 1965-1993. Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Heinz History Center Detre Library and Archives
referencedIn Records of the Office of Speechwriting (Clinton Administration), 1993 - 2001. Michael Waldman's Files, 1995 - 2000 William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Presidential Files. 1977 - 1981. 5/29/80 [1]
referencedIn National Urban League. Southern Regional Office. Records, 1900-1988 (bulk 1943-1978). Library of Congress
referencedIn Bond, Julian, 1940-. Julian Bond papers [manuscript], circa 1943-2006. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Henderson, Scott L. Photographs, 1912-1989 (bulk 1960-1980). Virginia Union University, L. Douglas Wilder Library & Learning Resource Center
referencedIn Louis Martin Papers, 1931-1998, (bulk 1977-1993) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Hollowell, Donald,. Donald Hollowell oral history interview, 1978 Nov. 30. Georgia State University
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Presidential Files. 1977 - 1981. 2/15/77 [2]
referencedIn Office of the Chief of Staff Files, 1977 - 1980. Hamilton Jordan's Confidential Files, 1977 - 1980 Jimmy Carter Library
referencedIn Koontz, Elizabeth D. (Elizabeth Duncan), 1919-. Elizabeth Duncan Koontz collection, 1929-1989 (bulk 1950-1985). Bennett College, Thomas F. Holgate Library
referencedIn Harris, Patricia, 1924-1985. Patricia Harris papers, 1950-1983 (bulk 1977-1980). Library of Congress
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Presidential Files. 1977 - 1981. 8/15/78 - Not Submitted, CF O/A 548
creatorOf Bloomstein, Charles. Bayard Rustin memorial service, the Community Church, NYC, Oct. 1, 1987 [videorecording]. Swarthmore College, Peace Collection, SCPC
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Presidential Files. 1977 - 1981. 8/7/80
referencedIn Floyd B. McKissick Papers, 1940s-1980s University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Baldwin, William H. (William Henry), b. 1891. Papers, 1886-1980. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf National Urban League. Records of the National Urban League, 1910-1986 (bulk 1930-1979). Library of Congress
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. The HistoryMakers
Relation Name
associatedWith Baldwin, William H. (William Henry), b. 1891. person
associatedWith Benedict College. corporateBody
associatedWith Bilderberg Conferences. corporateBody
associatedWith Bond, Julian, 1940- person
associatedWith Branton, Wiley A. person
associatedWith Clinton, Bill, 1946- person
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf DePauw University corporateBody
associatedWith Flanagan, Robert B., 1929- person
correspondedWith Fleming, Harold C. person
correspondedWith Fleming, Harold C. person
associatedWith Fuller, R. Buckminster (Richard Buckminster), 1895-1983 person
associatedWith Goldstein, Judith, person
associatedWith Goodson, Martia, person
correspondedWith Harris, Patricia, 1924-1985. person
correspondedWith Harvard Law School Forum corporateBody
associatedWith Henderson, Scott L. person
associatedWith Hollowell, Donald, person
associatedWith Hollowell Donald Lee, 1917- person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Howard University. School of law corporateBody
correspondedWith Johnson, Frank M. (Frank Minis), 1918-1999. person
correspondedWith Koontz, Elizabeth D. (Elizabeth Duncan), 1919- person
employeeOf Lazard Freres & Co. corporateBody
associatedWith Maloof, Manuel, person
correspondedWith Martin, Louis, 1912- person
associatedWith McCoy, Charles Brelsford, 1909-1995. person
correspondedWith McKissick, Floyd B. (Floyd Bixler), 1922- person
employeeOf National Association for the Advancement of Colored People corporateBody
leaderOf National urban league corporateBody
associatedWith National Urban League. corporateBody
associatedWith National Urban League. Southern Regional Office. corporateBody
memberOf Omega Psi Phi Fraternity corporateBody
associatedWith Rosenthal, A. M. (Abraham Michael), 1922-2006 person
memberOf Sigma Pi Phi corporateBody
employeeOf Southern Regional Council corporateBody
associatedWith United Nations. corporateBody
leaderOf United Negro College Fund corporateBody
associatedWith United Negro College Fund. corporateBody
associatedWith University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. General Faculty. corporateBody
associatedWith Urban League of Pittsburgh (Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Urban League of Pittsburgh (Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Urban League of Pittsburgh (Pa.) corporateBody
employeeOf Voter Education Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Weston, M. Moran, 1910- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Atlanta GA US
Greencastle IN US
District of Columbia DC US
New York City NY US
Subject
African Americans--Education
African American lawyers--Interviews
African Americans--Relations with Jews
Educational fund raising
Lawyers--Interviews
Occupation
Lawyers
Civil Rights Lawyer
Business Executive
Nonprofit Chief Executive
Authors
Civil rights activists
Activity

Person

Birth 1935-08-15

Death 2021-03-01

Male

Americans

English

Information

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