Visiting Barbara Jordan's Old Stomping Ground

Preparing a movie about TSU's most famous graduate, Viola Davis will visit Barbara Jordan's alma mater

By Eric Harrison April 15, 2013

Update: This event has been postponed.

Viola Davis has won acclaim for her work in such movies as The Help and Doubt, but when she visits the Texas Southern University campus next week chances are that students will be just as intrigued by a role that Davis has not yet begun: Davis is slated to play Barbara Jordan in a movie now in development about the groundbreaking Texas congresswoman and TSU grad. The late Jordan was a native of Houston's Third Ward who in 1966 became the first African American elected to the state senate since Reconstruction and later became the first black woman elected to Congress from the South.

Known for her commanding voice and razor sharp intellect, Jordan electrified the nation during the televised Watergate hearings in 1974 and helped sway public opinion when she intoned: “My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution.” She held the nation in her sway again in 1976 when she became the first black woman to deliver the keynote speech at a national party convention. A longtime teacher at the University of Texas after her retirement from Congress, Jordan always was private about her various illnesses, including the leukemia that killed her in 1996 at the age of 59.

Davis not only will star in the movie, which will be based on a 2000 biography - Barbara Jordan: American Hero, by Mary Beth Rogers - but Davis also will serve as producer. The film, announced last year, is in an early stage of development.

The actress will speak on campus as part of TSU's "Legends and Leaders Series." Deborah Duncan of KHOU Channel 11 will interview Davis on stage and moderate the discussion. Attendance is free and open to anyone, but attendees must registeras seating at Sawyer Auditorium is limited.

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