U.S. civil rights activist, lawyer Vernon Jordan dies at age 85 -report

by Reuters
Tuesday, 2 March 2021 13:59 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Attorney and business executive Vernon Jordan attends the ceremonial swearing-in of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department in Washington, February 2, 2009. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

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Vernon Jordan grew up in the segregated U.S. South and become an influential leader in the civil rights movement

By Bill Trott

WASHINGTON, March 2 (Reuters) - Vernon Jordan, who grew up in the segregated South to become an influential leader in the American civil rights movement, Washington politics and Wall Street, has died at age 85, a CNBC and New York Times journalist said on Tuesday, citing a statement from his family.

Jordan, who in 1980 was badly wounded by a white supremacist sniper in Indiana, died Monday night, according to the statement, journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin said on Twitter.

Jordan "passed away peacefully last evening surrounded by loved ones. We appreciate all of the outpouring of love and affection," the statement said.

Jordan worked well into his 80s, going back and forth between the jobs at the Gump Akin international law and lobbying firm in Washington and the Lazard financial management firm in New York. Representatives for Gump Akin did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the report.

Jordan's role as a Washington insider took him all the way to the White House, where he was a close friend, golfing buddy and adviser to President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

He never held a formal government job, but no one knew better than Jordan how favors, access and requests worked in Washington. In 2018 the Financial Times called him "one of the most connected men in America."

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama smiles as he speaks with Vernon Jordan before delivering the commencement address to the 2016 graduating class of Howard University in Washington, U.S., May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo/File Photo

Jordan grew up in a housing project in Atlanta before his family bought a home and he was the only black person in his class at DePauw University in rural Greencastle, Indiana.

After graduating, Jordan earned a law degree from Howard University and returned to Atlanta to work for a civil rights attorney. Among his cases was one that integrated the University of Georgia and Jordan helped escort his two young black clients past jeering protesters on their first day of class.

Jordan later went to work for the NAACP and the United Negro College Fund before becoming head of the National Urban League in 1971. (Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; writing by Bill Trott Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky)

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