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Vernon Jordan '57 Remembers His "Great Friend," Sen. Edward Kennedy

August 26, 2009

Vernon Jordan Tight 44.jpgAugust 26, 2009, Greencastle, Ind. — "It is a sad moment in America," according to Vernon E. Jordan Jr. The legendary civil rights figure and 1957 graduate of DePauw University discussed the passing of his friend, U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, on PBS' Tavis Smiley program tonight. Kennedy died yesterday evening after a battle with brain cancer.

In a telephone interview with the TV program, Jordan told of first meeting Ted Kennedy in 1968. "We remained great friends," Jordan, the former president of the National Urban League, said. "You may remember in 1980 when I was shot in Fort Wayne one of the first visitors to that intensive care unit to see me (was Sen. Kennedy) when my life was like having one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel."

Kennedy paid another hospital visit later while Edward M Kennedy.jpgcampaigning for president in New York. "He was incredibly compassionate when it came to his friends," recalls Jordan. "He was one who was not only sympathetic but he went with you and stood by you and propped you up."

Ted Kennedy "built on" the civil rights accomplishments of his brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Jordan told Smiley, "and he had longer to work at it than they did ... He showed us the way, he was an example."

Jordan added, "We need what Teddy Kennedy has given us and what he has left us and we need many more like him."

Access video of the segment at the program's Web site.

Vernon_Jordan WSJ May 2009.jpgAn adviser to Presidents Clinton and Carter, Vernon Jordan is senior managing director of Lazard Frères & Co. and an advisory member of DePauw's Board of Trustees. He has authored Vernon Can Read! and Make It Plain: Standing Up and Speaking Out.

On June 11, Jordan and former President Clinton paid tribute to the late historian and civil rights pioneer John Hope Franklin. Jordan also appeared June 4 on Smiley's PBS' program. A summary which includes video clips can be accessed here.

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