He’s a cotton-pickin’, bootleg liquor-delivering, vote-hustling, lawsuit-generating, maker of state laws – a standup guy in black skin and tall frame.
That’s a thumbnail sketch of David L. Jordan, otherwise state Sen. Jordan, D-Greenwood, whose 81 years of wide-ranging life took him from Delta cotton fields as a ragtag kid to the state’s imposing Capitol in Jackson.
His memoir, written with help from Robert L. Jenkins, a retired history professor from Mississippi State University, has been published by University Press as part of its Willie Morris Books series.
No question, ambition has driven David Jordan ever since he left his plantation job as cotton picker for 40 cents a pound to do his part to keep food on the family’s table, then, while still a schoolboy, to become a handyman at a country store just outside the city limits.
Remember those were days of Mississippi’s laughable prohibition and the back door of country stores was a common place to dispense bottles of illegal booze, usually a pint or half pint in a paper sack.
Jordan’s parents, mother Elizabeth, and father Cleveland, were an extraordinary black couple for the 1940s and 1950s when David was growing up in the heart of the cotton-rich Delta, the second youngest of five children. They strongly believed in education (even in Leflore County’s strictly segregated system) along with hard work and family loyalty, all virtues which would serve David well for life.