LBJ School's 21st annual Barbara Jordan National Forum celebrates perseverance, resolve in public service | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

The LBJ School of Public Affairs celebrated the 21st annual Barbara Jordan National Forum Feb. 19–23, paying tribute to the former congresswoman’s life and legacy through student-led programming focused on social justice issues.

The 2018 theme was Pillars of Change: Perseverance and Resolve, inspired by Barbara Jordan’s words, “It is a privilege to serve people, a privilege that must be earned, and once earned, there is an obligation to do something good with it.”

The 21st annual forum included events from documentary screenings to service projects:

Tuesday, Feb. 20

The Complicated South: A Conversation with Garrard Conley

The LBJ School’s Pride Policy Alliance began the weeklong tribute with special guest Garrard Conley, the author of Boy Erased and an advocate against gay conversion therapy. Conley spoke with LBJ students about how family and faith pushed him into gay conversion therapy and his  journey to self-discovery.

The African American Athlete: The Renaissance Continues

In honor of Black History Month and the 2018 Barbara Jordan National Forum, Texas Athletics, the LBJ School, LBJ Presidential Library, UT's Center for Sports Leadership & Innovation and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement collaborated to present a special evening event, “The African American Athlete: The Renaissance Continues.”

The evening began with a screening of the documentary, The Renaissance Period of the African American in Sports, that tells the story of nine pioneering African-American Olympians who shattered records and stereotypes in the 1936 Games in Berlin, paving the way for generations of pioneers. Following the screening, Dr. Leonard Moore, Interim Vice President of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and George Littlefield Professor of American History at The University of Texas at Austin, interviewed Herbert Douglas, Jr., a co-executive producer of the documentary and the oldest living African-American Olympic medalist, winning the bronze medal in the long jump during the 1948 London Olympic games.

Dr. Moore also moderated a panel that included former NFL and Texas football player Cory Redding, Professor Louis Harrison of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department and associate director of the School of Journalism Kathleen McElroy.

Wednesday, Feb. 21

Immigration Reform 2018: What Would Barbara Jordan Say

Ruth Wasem, a clinical professor of public policy practice at the LBJ School and a leading immigration expert, moderated a panel discussion on the historic US Commission on Immigration Reform, also referred to as the Jordan Commission, which was chaired by Congresswoman Jordan until her death in 1996.

During the event, “E Pluribus Unum: Defending Barbara Jordan’s Legacy on Immigration,” panelists, Professors Ed Dorn and Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, discussed how Rep. Jordan might approach today’s immigration debate.

Thursday, Feb. 22

Connecting Housing to Economic and Social Mobility: A Conversation Amongst Students and HousingWorks on the Housing Landscape in Austin

LBJ students cap off their academic experience with a year-long policy research project (PRP), which pairs teams of students with a client to address a complex policy issue in a real-world context. Students on the “Housing, Economic Mobility, and Social Mobility” PRP showcased research findings on the relationship between housing and economic opportunities. The client, HousingWorks, is an affordable housing advocacy organization. Students discussed Austin’s unprecedented growth and the subsequent challenges and policy issues.

Sherri Greenberg, clinical professor, Fellow of Max Sherman Chair in State and Local Government and MPAff graduate adviser, leads the PRP.

Friday, Feb. 23

Barbara Jordan Day at Barbara Jordan Early College Prep

Barbara Jordan Early College Preparatory (BJECP) holds an annual assembly on “Barbara Jordan Day” in honor of the school’s namesake and her legacy. LBJ students volunteer during the assembly and in the classrooms, reading to students. The Honorable Julian Castro served as this year’s keynote speaker.