2/24/14 Teacher, activist honored at ceremony Sunday
Teacher, activist honored at ceremony Sunday
By Molly McGowan The Times-News 2/24/14
Reprinted with permission.
| Molly McGowan / Times-News |
Alamance County Democratic Women First Vice Chair Clara Foriest, right, presents a gift Sunday night to Julia Jordan, 91, on behalf of the local Democratic Women chapter at First Baptist at Church Apple Street in Burlington.
Everyone in the congregation Sunday night at First Baptist Church on Apple Street was already aware of Julia Jordan’s dedication to teaching and local politics, since several were her former students, or became active in the local Democratic Party at Jordan’s suggestion.
But, based on the multiple honors, presentations and awards bestowed on Jordan, her living legacy in Alamance County has caught the attention of more than those at the local level.
Jordan, who served as a teacher in North Carolina and New York when integration was still a new concept, was honored Sunday night by the Alamance Coalition for African American Heritage Preservation during its first ceremony in its “Celebration of Heritage” series.
The series and the coalition aim to “discover, highlight and celebrate” the achievements of past and present African-Americans in Alamance County and the surrounding area, said coalition member Milele Archibald.
On Sunday, officials and representatives from educational, civic and political groups presented Jordan with multiple plaques, trophies, certificates and loving words, for the teacher’s tireless work in the schools and at the polls.
Jordan began her teaching career in her hometown of Burlington in 1950 at the predominantly black J.F. Gunn Elementary School, where she taught first grade for 18 years. She then moved to New York to continue her teaching career, where she first experienced teaching a classroom of all white children.
“I remember the first parents meeting we had,” Jordan said. She said the first thing she said to all the parents gathered in her kindergarten classroom was, “You want to see this black woman from the South, and see if I have a twang.”
From then on, Jordan said she maintained a good relationship with the parents of her students in New York, where she taught for 15 years. When she returned to Burlington in 1984, Jordan continued teaching and was invited to join the Alamance County chapter of Democratic Women — where she eventually served as president.
For her activism in the group and at the polls — where Jordan could be seen every election day — First Vice Chair of the Alamance County Democratic Women Clara Foriest presented Jordan a gift to the local chapters’ oldest surviving member.
Jordan also received recognition for her civic work with the Alamance Chapter #444 Order of the Eastern Star, from District Deputy Grand Marshal of the Order of the Eastern Star Piedmont Region Barbara Sellars — who was also one of Jordan’s former students.
Burlington City Councilman Celo Faucette presented a resolution recognizing Jordan on behalf of the mayor and city council of Burlington, and Ernestine Lewis, president of the Alamance County branch of the NAACP, presented Jordan with gifts.
Anna Gerow recognized Jordan on behalf of the local Senior Democrats, and also read a letter from Alamance County Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Robert Johnson, who thanked Jordan for her service.
Tracy Lovett, district liaison at the Office of Congressman David Price, even presented Jordan with a flag Price had had flown over the U.S. capitol on her behalf.
Jordan took the evening’s recognitions awards in stride, and humbly explained what had motivated her to touch so many students’ lives. She listed the names of her Burlington teachers that taught her in the first grade, second grade and so on, all throughout elementary school.
“They were so good that I decided I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up … I wanted to give (children) the same love,” said Jordan. “And that’s what I tried to do for 37 years.”