Vernon Jordan, a civil rights activist and political strategist, died on March 1st. He was 85 years old at the time.
Jordan, a close confidant of former President Bill Clinton, has played a key role in rallying Democratic supporters over the years.
Jordan rose to prominence after working as the Georgia NAACP’s field secretary and the executive director of the United Negro College Fund. He went on to become the first lawyer to lead the Urban League, which was previously headed by social workers. The Urban League added 17 new branches and increased its budget to more than $100 million under his leadership, according to The Associated Press.
Under Jordan’s leadership, the group expanded its mission to include voter registration drives and dispute resolution between Blacks and law enforcement.
After surviving an assassination attempt in 1980, Jordan went into business and politics. “It it is with sadness that we confirm that Vernon E. Jordan passed away peacefully last night,” Ann Walker Marchant, his niece, wrote to The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Jordan left the Urban League in 1982 to join Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld as a partner. He also co-chaired Clinton’s transition team and served as a key campaign advisor to Clinton during his first presidential campaign.
“He was never too busy to give good advice and encouragement to young people. And he never gave up on his friends or his country. He was a wonderful friend to Hillary, Chelsea, and me, in good times and bad. We worked and played, laughed and cried, won and lost together. We loved him very much and always will,” In a letter to The Associated Press, Clinton said.
Former President Barack Obama also remembered Jordan, tweeting, “Like so many others, Michelle and I benefited from Vernon Jordan’s wise counsel and warm friendship — and deeply admired his tireless fight for civil rights.”