ATLANTA (AP) — Vernon Jordan, who rose from humble beginnings in the segregated South to become a champion of civil rights before reinventing himself as a Washington insider and corporate influencer, has died, according to a statement from his daughter. He was 85.
Jordan’s daughter, Vickee Jordan Adams, released the statement Tuesday to CBS News.
“My father passed away last night around 10p surrounded by loved ones his wife and daughter by his side,” she said.
After stints as field secretary for the Georgia NAACP and executive director of the United Negro College Fund, he became head of the National Urban League, becoming the face of black America’s modern struggle for jobs and justice for more than a decade.
Jordan was nearly killed by a racist’s bullet outside the Marriott in Fort Wayne in May 1980. He was left seriously hurt. As he was recovering, then-President Jimmy Carter visited Jordan. It was the first story ever broadcast on CNN.
Afterward, Jordan transitioned to business and politics.
His friendship with Bill Clinton took them both to the White House. Jordan was an unofficial Clinton aide, drawing him into controversy during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.