Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr. (August 15, 1935 – March 1, 2021) was an American civil rights activist, attorney, and business executive. He played a prominent role in the civil rights movement, working alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and the National Urban League. Jordan also had a successful career in law and corporate America.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Jordan grew up in a segregated society and experienced racism firsthand. He attended DePauw University and later Howard University School of Law, where he was mentored by civil rights attorney Donald L. Hollowell. After graduating, he became the director of the Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council, working to register Black voters in the South.
In the 1960s, Jordan worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He helped organize peaceful protests and played a crucial role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
After the civil rights movement, Jordan shifted his focus to corporate law and became one of the first African American attorneys at a major law firm in Atlanta. He later served as president of the National Urban League from 1971 to 1981, advocating for economic empowerment and equal opportunities for African Americans.
In the business world, Jordan held various positions and served on the boards of several major companies, including Xerox, American Express, and Dow Jones & Company. He was known for his ability to navigate the worlds of politics and business and became a highly influential figure in both realms.
Throughout his life, Vernon Jordan was a powerful advocate for equality and social justice. He received numerous honors and awards for his contributions, and his legacy continues to inspire future generations in the fight for civil rights and equal opportunities for all.