Mar 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Civil rights leader and Bill Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan dies at 85

Vernon Jordan.
Vernon Jordan. Photo: Andy Kropa/Getty Images

Vernon Jordan, the Civil Rights Movement pioneer who served as a close adviser to former President Clinton, died on Monday evening, CNN reports. He was 85.

Why it matters: The former National Urban League president was influential in American politics — from his service in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s civil rights conference to his position in leadership at the NAACP.

  • He was best known for his close friendship with then-President Clinton, to whom he served as an informal adviser.
  • He successfully sued the University of Georgia for its admission policies, saying they discriminated on the basis of race.

What they're saying: "His powerbroker persona is most manifest in his decades-long friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton," wrote Financial Times in a 2018 profile of Jordan. "To jaded voters on the left and right, he is the ultimate Washington insider, a man whose seamless waltz between business and politics has fueled resentment at an incestuous system."

"Yet his successes in the boardroom and the smoke-filled backroom have, by now, obscured a distinguished role in the civil rights movement — and an upbringing in the segregated Deep South. Born into a world that had little use for his talents, Vernon Jordan would make himself indispensable."
— Sujeet Indap on Vernon Jordan for FT (subscription)
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