Vernon Jordan, Civil Rights Leader and D.C. Power Broker, Dies at 85

Mr. Jordan, who was selected to head the National Urban League while still in his 30s, counseled presidents and business leaders.

By: Neil A. Lewis, The New York Times

Vernon E. Jordan Jr., the civil rights leader and Washington power broker whose private counsel was sought in the highest echelons of government and the corporate world, died on Monday at his home in Washington. He was 85.

His death was confirmed in a statement by Vickee Jordan, his daughter. She did not state the cause.

Mr. Jordan as president of the National Urban League in 1977. The organization brought him to New York and exposed him to a wider world or political and corporate leaders.
Associated Press

Mr. Jordan, who was raised in segregation-era Atlanta, got his first inkling of the world of power and influence that had largely been denied Black Americans like him while waiting tables at one of the city’s private clubs, where his mother catered dinners, and as a driver for a wealthy white banker, who was startled to discover that the tall Black youth at the wheel could read.

He went on to a dazzlingly successful career as a civil-rights leader and then as a high-powered Washington lawyer in the mold of past capital insiders like Clark M. Clifford, Robert S. Strauss and Lloyd M. Cutler.

Mr. Jordan also leaves behind a long list of younger Black leaders whose careers he fostered and who describe him as a sort of father figure, among them Mr. Walker, Mr. Chenault and Ursula Burns, the former chief executive of Xerox and the first Black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company.

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