It is with great sadness that I join my colleagues and the nation in mourning the passing of civil rights icon Vernon Jordan.
Mr. Jordan grew up in the Jim Crow South and channeled his experiences into action. After graduating from law school in 1960, he served as a law clerk and helped to desegregate the University of Georgia. He went on to work for the NAACP, the United Negro College Fund and became head of the National Urban League. In 1980, he survived an assassination attempt and spent months recovering in the hospital.
During his time with the Urban League, his interactions with corporate figures on the board sparked a new desire in him: breaking yet another barrier by serving on corporate boards himself. After years of fighting tirelessly for civil rights, Mr. Jordan became a lawyer for banks and corporations and established a reputation that made him a highly sought counselor in the corporate world and at the top levels of government.
Mr. Jordan was not only a civil rights champion, but a leader of leaders. He nearly gave his life in the fight for civil rights, and fought tirelessly to break barriers that would open doors for the rest of us. His legacy reminds us all that we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. We owe him a debt of gratitude.
I extend my deepest condolences to his family during this difficult time. May he rest in power.