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Born in Houston’s Fourth Ward, Barbara Jordan graduated from Texas Southern University and earned a law degree from Boston University. She became an aide to Harris County Judge Bill Elliott and later won election to the Texas Senate, the first black to do so since 1883. In 1973 she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Houston’s 18th congressional district. It was another first – the first black woman to serve in Congress from a Southern state. In 1974 she came to national prominence for her eloquence during the impeachment hearings of President Richard Nixon. She said: “I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.” Jordan was keynote speaker at the 1976 and 1992 Democratic national conventions. In 1994 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.