Called "an American original and a national treasure" by former Texas Governor Ann Richards, Barbara Charline Jordan (1936-1996) was born in Houston, Texas and lived her life as an inspiration to others.
About her childhood, Jordan said: "We were poor. But so was everyone else around us, so we didn't really notice. Besides, we were never hungry and we always had a place to stay."
The daughter of a Baptist minister, Jordan was an eloquent speaker who won a National speech contest at age 16 and graduated with a law degree in 1959.
"I never intended to become a run-of-the-mill person," said the dynamic leader.
After volunteering for John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign in 1960, she began her career in politics in 1966 when elected to the Texas Senate. She called Lyndon Johnson her friend and mentor. In 1972, Jordan became the first female African Americans member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
"Do not call for black power or green power," Jordan said with dignity. "Call for brain power."
A passionate defender of the Constiution during the Watergate hearings, Jordan delivered unforgettable keynote speeches at the 1976 and 1992 Democratic conventions.
"What the people want is very simple," she said. "They want an America as good as its promise."
Beseiged with multiple sclerosis, Jordan retired from politics and spent the last 16 years of her life sharing her wisdom as a teacher of public policy at Austin's University of Texas. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.
"I live a day at a time," she once explained. "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."
Own up to your responsibilities.