America Needs More Leaders Like Vernon Jordan

By Governor Haley Barbour

March 8, 2021

Last week America lost a “wise man,” to quote The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan.  I expect many more national leaders and chroniclers agree with that view of Vernon Jordan.

I first learned about Vernon Jordan and his distinguished career in 1980 when, as a civil rights leader, he was shot by a white supremacist. Little did I, a conservative Southern Republican in my early thirties, have any idea what a friend, role model and supporter he would be to me over the next forty years.

I admired and had the privilege to be in contact with Vernon from the time I served as Political Director of the Reagan White House. He gave me sage advice on issues and relationships. He was helpful to everybody, not just me.

Vernon didn’t have to tell anybody he was special. He lived it.  He was a liberal Democrat who enjoyed his Republican friends and led people of both parties to work together, to like each other, and to disagree agreeably.

He was a wonderful example of a time when Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives not only worked together; they got things done together. They even liked each other.

And perhaps most important, as my wife Marsha said when she learned of Vernon’s death, “He was such a gentleman – a true gentleman in every way.”