A bronze statue of civil rights champion Barbara Jordan will be unveiled April 24, on The University of Texas at Austin campus, following a week of special events honoring the late congresswoman. Jordan will be the first female public figure so honored on the university’s campus.
The ceremony will begin at noon at the site of the Battle Oaks, at 24th and Whitis streets near the Texas Union. The program features a number of speakers, including William Powers Jr., president of the university, DeAnn Friedholm, a friend of Jordan’s, and student Dera Barlow, Barbara Jordan Statue Project co-chair. Other program participants include author and actress Anna Deavere Smith, the Innervisions Gospel Choir, Longhorn Singers and The University of Texas at Austin Trombone Choir. The musicians and singers will begin their performances at 11:30 a.m. prior to the ceremony, with a musical tribute of Jordan’s favorite songs. Immediately following the ceremony, more songs honoring Jordan will be heard from the Kniker Carillon in the Main Building Tower. Also, a reception will be in the Texas Union Ballroom.
The statue, crafted by artist Bruce Wolfe, is the result of a student-led initiative that began with the Orange Jackets, a volunteer and service organization that is one of the oldest student organizations on campus. Women inducted into the Orange Jackets in 2002 noticed that women were not represented by the public art on campus, other than by a statue of the mythical Diana. Barbara Jordan quickly emerged as the woman who symbolized the vision and values of the institution and whose character and personal achievements–including the 17 years she spent as a professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs–made her an obvious choice for the honor.
“This statue project is a an example of what can happen when we dare to listen to our students and put great trust in them–our campus becomes a better place, a more inspiring place because of their efforts,” Dr. Juan C. González, vice president for student affairs, said.
The members of the statue committee which includes faculty, staff and alumni, in addition to students, have been dedicated to the same vision–having Barbara Jordan’s presence and powerful words memorialized on campus, to serve as a reminder of what is just and fair in this world, according to Dr. Sherri Sanders, deputy to the vice president for diversity and community engagement, and director of the Barbara Jordan Statue Project.
“That has driven many of the decisions we have made–from placement of the statue underneath the Battle Oaks, to our choice of quotes by Jordan on the stelae surrounding the statue,” Sanders said.
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, noted that Jordan’s words are an integral part of the sculpture.
“Jordan’s moving reflections on freedom, education and civil rights will inspire students, faculty and staff at The University of Texas at Austin for generations to come. Her life and her efforts serve as a reminder of why we continue to strive to create an environment of inclusive excellence here on campus.”
For a full list of speakers at the ceremony and a full list of events honoring Jordan that are scheduled April 20-24, visit the Dedication Activities page of the Barbara Jordan Statue Project Web site.
Activities include a number of performances and panel discussions as well as a candlelight vigil honoring Jordan April 23, from 8-9 p.m. on the mall near the Main Building. The University of Texas Libraries has a special exhibit, “When Barbara Jordan Talked, We Listened,” that will be displayed until June 1 in the Student Learning Commons at Perry-Castañeda Library.
The online Barbara Jordan statue press room includes additional information about the artist and the statue project, as well as photographs of Jordan and quotes from a number of people involved in the project. It also includes additional information with regard to media parking availability.