Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., a Lazard Senior Managing Director from 1999 until his death on March 1, 2021, was a masterful orator, trained in the traditions of the American Black Church.
As he wrote in his collection of speeches, Make It Plain: Standing Up and Speaking Out, “Early in my life, I decided I wanted to be an advocate for Black America’s quest to gain the full measure of American citizenship, and it was quite clear that required the ability to speak in a way that influenced people.”
With every passing year, he grew in demand as a speaker. Below are some of his memorable speeches from the last decade.
April 2019: Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel at Howard University:
“We live in an age of immediacy: immediate deliveries; immediate communications. But the work of justice takes time. There will be moments of doubt and difficulty. And that means you need to find your rock – your inspiration.”
Watch Video (YouTube: Vernon Jordan starts at 14:40)
November 2018: private dinner event, reflecting on the U.S. mid-term elections:
“I love this country because I’ve seen it change. I’ve had a hand in the change. And I’ve been a beneficiary of the change. And the potential for change is great. And it gives me great hope.”
May 2017: Syracuse University commencement address:
“When executive orders bar people from our shores based on what they look like or how they worship, it is hard not to hear echoes of Strom Thurmond on the campaign trail in 1948, or the cry of George Wallace in the schoolhouse door in 1963, saying ‘Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.’ We have been here before.”
Watch Video (Syracuse University website)
November 2016: Lazard Foursquare Conference, one week before the U.S. Presidential election:
“The technology in our hands may be new, but the issues we face are as old as mankind. New media has given a new voice to ignorance, and fear, and the worst of human nature. We have to fight back with truth, and reason, and our own best selves.”
June 2015: Stanford University Baccalaureate address:
“I come today to ask, as did Isaiah: ‘Who will go, and whom shall we send?’ And I pray that your answer is: ‘Here I am. Send me. Send me to help clear the rubble of racism still strewn across this country.’”
Watch Video (YouTube: Vernon Jordan starts at 33:03)