Eleanor Jordan

December 8, 2010 in 1960s-1970s, Intellectual history, Oral history, Political history, Primary source, Social history

UK's HIS351 class and guests at AASRP Dialogues on Race featuring Eleanor Jordan with Senator Georgia Davis Powers, December 2, 2010Last Thursday our class was privileged to hear not one, but two wonderful women speak about their influential lives (see the UK press release on this event with Senator Georgia Davis Powers). One of those women was Eleanor Jordan.

Eleanor Jordan was born in Louisville in 1953. Although she was young when a lot of the civil rights movements were taking place she still recalls feeling discriminated against. In an interview with the Kentucky Historical Society, Eleanor tells a story of when she really realized that she was treated differently than everyone else, even though she didn’t understand why.

Eleanor Jordan, Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on Women

Eleanor Jordan, Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on Women, facilitating the UK AASRP Dialogues on Race, "Sisters in the Struggle," at MLK Jr. Cultural Center, December 2, 2010

She remembers often taking car rides with her father, mother, and her brothers and sisters to go get fresh air (since they didn’t have air conditioning) and ice cream as a family. On these car rides they would pass an amusement park that was close to her neighborhood. She recalls seeing flashing lights, hearing children screaming with joy on the roller coasters, and smelling the cotton candy in the air. As they would drive past the amusement park, Eleanor and her brothers and sisters would ask their parents if they could go to it. She remembers her father saying no and she asked why. That’s when her mother’s eyes “would always fill up with tears” and there would be an overwhelming silence in the car. Her mother would always reassure her that one day she would be able to go.

Little instances like that can have huge impacts on the people affected, but Eleanor Jordan did not let discrimination hold her back. She eventually served in the Kentucky House of Representatives for four years. She also was the ombudsman for the Cabinet for Families and Children. Governor Steve Beshear appointed her, the first African-American executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Women. Eleanor Jordan is an inspiration to everyone and we were so lucky to be in her presence last week.

1 response to Eleanor Jordan

  1. your right it is funny how little things like that can have such a deciding impact upon someones life. this reminds me of when we watch anne Braden tell about a moment she had when she was working for a news paper reporting murders and she commented to her friend that there had ONLY been a colored man murdered. that moment helped her relizes what a dangours road she was on and to change her ways.

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