AUSTIN, Texas—The digital divide—the gap between those who benefit from new technology and those who don’t—will be the focus of the sixth annual Barbara Jordan National Forum on Public Policy, hosted by The University of Texas at Austin’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Feb. 21-23. The event is free and open to the public.
“The ultimate goal is that forum participants return to their schools, workplaces and communities with practical ideas of what they can do to narrow the digital divide and level the playing field,” said forum Chair Cassius Johnson, who also is the LBJ School 2001 Barbara Jordan Scholar.
A central theme of the forum will be to identify “best practices” to ensure equitable access to digital technologies, particularly for individuals with disabilities, rural communities and developing nations. Workshop topics include “The Senior Citizen: Age and the Digital Divide,” “Telecommunications and Economic Development,” “Women in Technology” and “Computer Learning Centers in Affordable Housing Communities.”
Notable speakers include Dr. Shirley Malcom, director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs; Randal D. Pinkett, founder of MBS Educational Services and Training, which serves Fortune 500 companies, and co-founder of BCT Partners Inc., a technology services and consulting firm that serves low-income, rural and international communities; Ana Sisnett, executive director of Austin Free-Net; and John B. Horrigan, research specialist at the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
Jordan (1936-1996) articulated a bold vision of inclusiveness once absent in American dialogue. She was the first African American U.S. congresswoman from the deep South, defended the cause of the poor and promoted civil rights legislation during her six years as a representative of Texas.
Noted for her eloquent speaking style, Jordan was a Democratic representative from Houston to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, she impressed nationwide television audiences during the impeachment hearings of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974.
Jordan was graduated from Texas Southern University (1956) and was the first African American student at Boston University Law School (1956-59). She was the only woman and the only African American in the Texas State Senate (1966-72) and was consulted by President Lyndon B. Johnson on civil rights legislation. She chose not to run for reelection to Congress in 1978. After leaving the House, Jordan wrote an autobiography and taught at The University of Texas at Austin.
Her lifelong commitment to democratic practices opened doors of opportunity for all under-privileged Americans. To honor Jordanís memory, presentations will be made by Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of President Johnson; and Dr. Thomas Freeman, a professor of philosophy at Texas Southern University who was Jordanís debate coach.
To register for the forum or for detailed information on speakers and scheduling, visit the Barbara Jordan National Forum on Public Policy Website or contact forum coordinator Stephanie Hill at (512) 471-0801.
The LBJ School is in Sid Richardson Hall, Bldg. 3, on the corner of Red River and Dean Keeton streets at The University of Texas at Austin.