July 24, 2021

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Vernon Jordan, civil rights icon and former Clinton adviser, dies at 85 – NBC News

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Vernon Jordan, a civil rights icon and adviser to former President Bill Clinton, died Monday, according to his family.

He was 85.

His daughter, Vickee Jordan, said he “passed away peacefully last evening surrounded by loved ones.”

“We appreciate all of the outpouring of love and affection,” she said Tuesday in a statement.

Vernon Jordan and President Bill Clinton at the 2000 Presidents Cup at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va.PGA Tour Archive via Getty Images

Jordan grew up in the segregated South and become an influential leader in the American civil rights movement, Washington politics and Wall Street.

A graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and the Howard University School of Law, he went on to become the president of the National Urban League from 1971 to 1981.

According to the organization, he was the first to produce the State of Black America report in 1976 “after both President Gerald Ford’s State of the Union Address and Sen. Edmund Muskie’s response completely ignored the crisis then facing Black Americans.”

Jordan was also the executive director of the United Negro College Fund in 1980 and 1981. In a tweet, the organization’s president, Michael Lomax, called Jordan’s death a “heartbreaking loss” and reflected on the last time the two saw each other.

“My last meeting with the Great Vernon Jordan in his DC office to get advice and counsel on a difficult issue facing UNCF,” he captioned a photo of them together.

“He was always there for @UNCF, for #HBCUs & Black college students. He loved to reminisce abt Benjamin Mays, Albert Dent & great HBCU presidents he knew.”

Jordan’s first wife, Shirley Yarbrough Jordan, died in December 1985. He is survived by his daughter and his second wife, Ann Jordan.

This is a developing story; check back for updates.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed.

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