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Who is Vernon Jordan Jr.?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 10:09 am

He might not have been known to many in Fort Wayne when he came to the city in 1980, but Vernon E. Jordan Jr. survived an assassination attempt and has continued to shine in the spotlight.

The then-National Urban League president was shot May 30, 1980, outside the Marriott Hotel in the 300 block of East Washington Center Road. Condemned killer Joseph Paul Franklin was acquitted by a federal court jury in his 1982 trial on a charge of violating Jordan’s civil rights. He later told reporters he was the sniper who shot Jordan.

Jordan went on to become an adviser to President Clinton and played a role in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He is a former executive director of the United Negro College Fund and has held positions on numerous corporate boards.

The shooting brought Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to visit Jordan as he recuperated at Parkview Memorial Hospital. President Carter also visited him during his recovery.

The longtime civil rights activist wrote his memoir, “Vernon Can Read,” in 2009. The title comes from the exclamation by his white banker boss who noticed the Atlanta college student on summer break reading while his boss didn’t need him to drive him.

Jordan grew up attending segregated Atlanta schools in the 1940s and early ’50s and then the predominantly white DePauw University. He earned a law degree from Howard University.

He can be seen in photos with President Obama on the golf course. In a 2008 appearance on “Larry King Live” for his book “Make it Plain,” he discussed his advice to then-Sen. Barack Obama, who was considering a run for president. He told the senator, “'This is not your season.’ I’ve never been so wrong in my life.”