Texas Senator Rodney Ellis to Keynote Opening Day of Weeklong Tribute to Barbara Jordan

To commemorate the 75th birthday of Barbara Jordan, the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin will honor her with a week of planned activities taking place Feb. 21 through Feb. 25 at locations throughout the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Faculty, students and research centers across the LBJ School will participate in this week designed to highlight Jordan's lifetime of significant contributions to the nation and society as politician, policymaker, activist and educator.

Kicking off the tribute, the LBJ School of Public Affairs is partnering with the Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation to present a daylong symposium titled "The Promise of Freedom, Justice and Democracy in America" on Monday, Feb. 21, President's Day, which will include a keynote luncheon featuring Texas State Senator Rodney G. Ellis.

Ellis, LBJ School of Public Affairs alumnus and Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation board member, was elected to the Texas Senate in 1990 and holds the same senate seat as Barbara Jordan. Activities will continue with a series of student-organized forums "The America We Share: Pursuing a Common Destiny," highlighting policy areas championed by Jordan, including environmental law, juvenile justice, disability, and women in government and equality.

"The landmark occasion of Jordan's 75th birthday provides us a unique opportunity to celebrate her life and work by devoting an entire week of activities to commemorating her legacy," said Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs. "It is particularly fitting that Rodney Ellis, LBJ School graduate and the current holder of Barbara Jordan's Texas senate seat, has the distinction of providing the major keynote address. Senator Ellis exemplifies the spirit of Jordan as a champion of education, civil rights and criminal justice in his work in the Texas Senate. As part of our continuing celebration of the school's 40th anniversary, having an LBJ School alumnus play such an integral part in our tribute to Barbara Jordan reminds us of our legacy and inspires us to grow together as an extended community of alumni, faculty and current students. In that same vein, I would like to commend our current student body for their active and continued involvement in recognizing Jordan's legacy of service through their special forums throughout the week."

"The Promise of Freedom, Justice and Democracy in America" on Monday, Feb. 21, will have a morning and an afternoon session. The morning session, "The Promise of Democracy," is presented by the LBJ School's Center for Politics and Governance and will focus on the topics of WikiLeaks, including public policy and government transparency, as well as the Voting Rights Act and elections, key issues of the Center and central to the democratic principles championed by Barbara Jordan.

The afternoon session, "The Promise of Freedom and Justice," is sponsored by the Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation and will focus on issues of education and early childhood intervention, juvenile justice, criminal justice and race. The event marks the introduction of the Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation, a new organization dedicated to perpetuating Jordan's legacy by inspiring Americans to achieve the promise of freedom and justice for all people by promoting the success of children through early childhood opportunities and effective education, and by confronting injustices and inequities in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.

Previously, LBJ School students have honored Barbara Jordan with a daylong symposium but have extended the tribute, "Barbara Jordan: A Champion of Equality" to include a week of events to better demonstrate the breadth and depth of Jordan's contributions to government, policy and culture. Student-organized forums are listed below. For more information on the events, visit: http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/barbarajordanforum/

The LBJ School student body will participate in a fundraising project designed to provide every classroom at the Austin Independent School District's Barbara Jordan Elementary School with biographies of Barbara Jordan. For more information on the student fundraising project, visit its Web site at: http://barbarajordan.weebly.com/.

This week-long celebration of Jordan is part of the ongoing 40th anniversary celebration (LBJ@40) commemorating the first four decades of the LBJ School and its role in public policy teaching and research. Organized around signature events throughout the year, LBJ@40 is designed to highlight and commend the ideas that define the LBJ School -- past, present and future.

For a full events listing, visit: http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/events/2011/weeklong-tribute-honor-life-and-work-barbara-jordan-feb-21-2