Vernon Jordan Jr., was the consummate political survivor and Washington power broker. In 1971, at age 36, he was named president of the National Urban League, a post he held for a decade. During his tenure as Urban League President, Jordan survived an assassination attempt May 29, 1980, in Fort Wayne, Ind. Jordan moved on to become a high-powered D.C. lawyer, a very successful business executive for several companies and eventually one of President Bill Clinton’s most trusted advisers.

In this July 27, 1977 file photo, Vernon Jordan, President of the National Urban League, talks to reporters during a press conference in Washington. 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, died Tuesday, March 2, 2021, according to a statement from his daughter. He was 85. (AP Photo/File)

NEW YORK (March 2, 2021) –  National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial today issued the following statement in response to the passing of his predecessor, Vernon Jordan:

“The nation has lost one of its greatest champions of racial and economic justice.  He was a transformational leader who brought the movement into a new era.  He was a personal mentor and dear friend. His passing leaves a tremendous void that can never be filled.

“Vernon assumed leadership of the National Urban League at a crucial moment in history, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act.  The broad, legal goals of the 20th Century Civil Rights Movement had been achieved. His mission, as he saw it, was to empower Black Americans to realize the promise of these victories.  In his words, “Black people today can check into any hotel in America, but most do not have the wherewithal to check out.”

“The exceptional poise and dignity with which he carried himself was just as striking as his impressive height.  Born into an era when Black men were routinely addressed as “Boy,” Vernon’s mother pointedly nicknamed him “Man.”  He honored her faith in him with his bravery, his grace, his brilliance and his excellence.

“The National Urban League would not be where it is today without Vernon Jordan. We have lost more than a leader; we have lost a brother. We send our prayers to his wife Ann, his daughter Vikee, and his entire family and extended family as we rededicate our commitment to his vision of justice and equality.”