The Jordan Gospel

In an excerpt from his book 'Make It Plain,' a collection of his speeches, Vernon Jordan looks back to explain the here and now. How the men and women obligated to 'disturb the unjust peace' gave us the candidacies of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

American Odyssey

In the summer of 1955, at the end of my sophomore year in college, I worked as a chauffeur in my hometown of Atlanta. I was originally supposed to work as a salesman for the Continental Insurance Co., which had made me an offer during a campus interview at my school, DePauw University. When the interviewer said there was an opening for me in the company's Atlanta office, I jumped at the chance.At home, I put on my best suit and headed downtown to the Fulton National Bank Building, where Continental had its offices. I went up to the receptionist's desk to present myself. "My name is Vernon Jordan," I said. "I'm a student at DePauw University, and I'm here to begin my summer internship."The receptionist seemed in need of a translator to help clarify what I had just said. When she finally realized she'd heard what she thought she'd heard, she called for the man in charge of summer workers. "You won't believe this," she told him, "but there's a colored boy out here who says he's a...