Howard University School of Law Hosts Library Dedication Ceremony for the late Vernon E. Jordan Jr.

unveiling of photo of Vernon E Jordan at Howard Law library

WASHINGTONHoward University School of Law recognized the late alumnus, Vernon E. Jordan Jr., by naming the School of Law library in his honor. The Vernon E. Jordan Jr. Law Library dedication took place on March 3 on Howard University West campus. Many gathered to honor Jordan as a long-time civil rights leader, adviser, grandfather and close friend. 

“Students come here to get the truth, but it is useless until they go out and change the world around them by providing service to others,” said Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University. “The example that Mr. Jordan set for us is exactly the example we all should embrace. You can come into the library and read. You can come in and have discussions with your peers. But I hope you will leave feeling what Mr. Vernon did. His spirit, his energy, his dedication, and most importantly his love.” 

After receiving a Juris Doctor at Howard University School of Law in 1960, Jordan started his civil rights career. Most notably, as a Georgia native, he was a part of a team of lawyers that desegregated the University of Georgia.  

In the early 1990s, Jordan became a close ally and friend of former president Bill Clinton and he served as part of Clinton’s transition team. After Clinton’s departure from office, Jordan began working with multiple corporations and investment banking firms, including Lazard Freres & Co. LLC. Jordan was also a member of the board of directors of American Express, J.C. Penney Corporation, Xerox, and the Dow Jones & Company.  

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Jordan led debate preparation and negotiation efforts on behalf of John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president. That year, Jordan was elected president of The Economic Club of Washington, D.C.  

Author of “Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir,” Jordan tells the story of his life and encompasses the sweeping struggles, changes and dangers of African-American life in the civil rights revolution of the second half of the 20th century. His memoir won the Best Nonfiction Book in 2001 from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. In 2002, it won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and a Trailblazer Award from the Metropolitan Black Bar Association.  

As a grandfather of nine, Jordan’s family was front row center to celebrate his legacy. His granddaughter and third-year Howard University law student, Shelbie Cook, and daughter, Toni Cook Bush, had the honor of speaking at the dedication. 

“Vernon loved Howard University,” said Cook Bush. She went forward to recite a passage from “Vernon Can Read!” 

It would not be a stretch to say that Howard University saved my soul. Howard will always be special to me for the place that it was and for what I found – a wife, a career, the reaffirmation of my faith in the mission of Black people.

The current law library opened its doors in 2001 and remains committed to delivering instruction and programs that deepen the law student body’s legal information literacy skills; building and maintaining a collection of legal resources that advance research and curricular needs with a commitment to civil rights and social justice materials; and facilitating access to law library collections in service of defending the rights of all, particularly African-Americans and diverse, multicultural individuals and communities.  


About Howard University 

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit

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