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Vernon Eulion Jordan, Jr. (born August 15, 1935) is a lawyer and business executive in the United States. He served as a close adviser to President Bill Clinton and has become known as an influential figure in American politics. Mr. Jordan is an African American.


Early life and Education

Jordan lived in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1950s, where he earned money for college as chauffeur to former mayor Robert Maddox. He graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, in 1957 [1]. He earned a law degree at Howard University in 1960. He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities.

Legal career and activism

Jordan then returned to Atlanta to join the law office of Donald L. Hollowell, a civil rights activist. The firm, including Constance Motley, sued the University of Georgia for racist admission policies. The suit ended in 1961 with a Federal Court order demanding the admission of two African Americans, Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton E. Holmes. Jordan personally escorted Hunter past a group of angry white protesters to the university admissions office.

After leaving private law practice in the early 1960s, Jordan served as the Georgia field director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. From the NAACP he moved to the Southern Regional Council and then to the Voter Education Project.

In 1970, Jordan became executive director of the United Negro College Fund[2] and was president of the National Urban League from 1971 to 1981.

Murder attempt

On May 29, 1980, he was shot and seriously wounded outside the Marriott Inn in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Joseph Paul Franklin was acquitted in 1982 of charges of attempted murder, but in 1996 Franklin admitted to having committed the shooting. Then-president Jimmy Carter visited Jordan while he was recovering, an event that became the first story covered by the new network CNN.[3]

Jordan resigned from the National Urban League, and he took a position as legal counsel with the Washington, D.C. office of the Dallas law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. While still with the National Urban League, Jordan in 1981 said of the Ronald Reagan administration:

I do not challenge the conservatism of this Administration. I do challenge its failure to exhibit a compassionate conservatism that adapts itself to the realities of a society ridden by class and race distinction.[4]

Clinton Administration

Jordan, a friend and adviser to Bill Clinton, served as part of Clinton's transition team in 1992–1993, shortly after he was elected President.

Jordan controversially helped Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern, after she left the White House.[5] On October 1, 2003, a United States court of appeals rejected Jordan's claim for reimbursement for legal services regarding Clinton's involvement with Lewinsky and Paula Jones. Jordan asked the government to pay him $302,719, but was paid only $1,215.[6]

Recent activities

Since January 2000, Jordan has been Senior Managing Director with Lazard Freres & Co. LLC, an investment banking firm. He is also currently a member of the board of directors of multiple corporations, including American Express, J.C. Penney Corporation, Xerox, Asbury Automotive Group and the Dow Jones & Company. He is formerly a member of the board of directors of Revlon, Sara Lee, Corning and RJR Nabisco during 1989 leveraged buy-out fight between RJR Nabisco CEO F. Ross Johnson and Henry R. Kravis and his company KKR. A close friend of Jordan was the late Xerox tycoon Charles Peter McColough, who convinced Jordan to join the Board of Trustees at Xerox. McColough served as a mentor and friend of Jordan's until McColough's death.

In 2004, Jordan led debate preparation and negotiation efforts on behalf of John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for President.[7]

In 2006, Jordan served as a member of the Iraq Study Group, which was formed to make recommendations on the U.S. policy in Iraq [8].

Family life

Jordan is the son of Mary Jordan and Vernon E. Jordan Sr, and brother of Windsor.

His first wife, Shirley, died in 1985. They have a daughter, Vickee Jordan Adams, who works in public relations at Hill & Knowlton. Since 1986, he has been married to Ann Dibble Jordan. He has nine grandchildren [9].


Jordan's memoir Vernon Can Read! was published in 2001. ISBN 189162069X

His most recent book is a collection of his public speeches, with commentary, called Make It Plain: Standing Up and Speaking Out" [5] (Public Affairs, 2008).

Awards and Memberships

Jordan is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Barnard College, at its 1983 commencement ceremonies, awarded Jordan its highest honor, the Barnard Medal of Distinction.

He was awarded the Spingarn Medal in 2001.[10].


  1. ^ Vernon Jordan: More than a "First Friend", The Harbus Online, 12/03/2001
  2. ^ An Historical Look At the Impact of the United Negro College Fund and its Member Institutions on American History, UNCF
  3. ^ [1], YouTube video clip of CNN's first broadcast
  4. ^ The New York Times, 23 July 1981, p 17)
  5. ^ [2],PBS, THE STARR INVESTIGATION, March 3, 1998, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Transcript
  6. ^ [3], NY Times, October 1, 2003, National Briefing | Washington: Request For Legal Fees Rejected
  7. ^ Vernon Jordan '57 Named John Kerry's Lead Debate Negotiator & Elected President of Economic Club of Washington, DePauw University News, June 28, 2004
  8. ^ Iraq Study Group Members, United States Institute of Peace
  9. ^ [4], Vernon Jordan on Politics, Obama and Civil Rights, NPR, Nov. 19, 2008,
  10. ^ Spingarn Medals Awarded, Louisville Free Public Library


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