Family Reunion by Laverne Ross

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


I found this over at African American Registry

The story of Leon Jordan and what he accomplished as well as his untimely death would make an excellent movie. I love finding information on great individuals that I had previously not known about.

Leon Jordan was born on this date in 1905. He was an African-American teacher, police detective and politician.

Born in Kansas City, MO., Jordan graduated from Wilberforce University, in Wilberforce, Ohio, and later worked as a social caseworker and teacher. In 1938, he joined the Kansas City Police Department, aftrer 16 years becoming the first African-American to achieve the rank of lieutenant. He was granted an extended leave of absence in 1947, and lived for eight years in the West African country of Liberia, where he reorganized a 450-man police force.

He left police work soon after his return from Liberia and launched both a business and political career. Jordan was first elected to public office in 1958. He founded Freedom, Inc. in 1962, with Bruce Watkins, his longtime friend and ally in inner-city political affairs. The club was established to give Black voters more influence and to develop Black candidates for political office. In 1963, under Jordan's leadership and with a public accommodations ordinance on the ballot, Freedom, Inc. conducted one of the most massive voter registration drives ever seen in Kansas City.

Jordan was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1964. In 1970, Leon Jordan was perhaps the most powerful African-American in the state of Missouri. He also owned and operated the Green Duck tavern. Jordan was assassinated (shot at close range in a gangland-style killing) in the early morning hours of July 15, 1970, as he was closing his tavern. Although charges were brought against two individuals, no one was ever convicted and Jordan's murder remains unsolved.

The Leon M. Jordan Memorial Park at 31st Street and Benton Boulevard, which features a statue of the slain leader, was dedicated in 1975.

In 1970, Orchid I. Jordan, a Kansas City Democrat, won election after her husband, powerful black leader Rep. Leon Jordan, was murdered. As she said then, "I want to do everything I can to make Leon's dream of dignity, equality, justice and freedom a reality." During her 16 years in office, Orchid Jordan regularly sponsored legislation for transit-system taxes; in 1984, she won 81 percent of the vote in her district.

Contemporary Black Biography, various volumes
Edited by Shirelle Phelps
Copyright 1999 by Gale Research, Detroit, London
ISBN 0-7876-1275-8

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