April 13, 2021

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Vernon Jordan, the civil rights leader who served as an adviser to former President Bill Clinton, has died at 85.

Jordan died on Monday night “surrounded by loved ones” with “his wife and daughter by his side,” his daughter confirmed in a statement on Tuesday. Information about his cause of death wasn’t disclosed.

Jordan worked as a field director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, as well as Southern Regional Council Voter Education Project director, United Negro College Fund executive director, and National Urban League president. CNN notes that he worked with presidents including Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama, but his “closest political friendship” was with the Clintons, acting as an adviser to the 42nd president.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson honored Jordan as an “influential figure in the fight for civil rights” on Tuesday.

“An icon to the world and a lifelong friend to the NAACP, his contribution to moving our society toward justice is unparalleled,” Johnson said. “In 2001, Jordan received the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal for a lifetime of social justice activism. His exemplary life will shine as a guiding light for all that seek truth and justice for all people.”

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams was among those who also honored Jordan on Tuesday, writing, “He battled the demons of voter suppression and racial degradation, winning more than he lost. He brought others w/him. And left a map so more could find their way.”

Rev. Al Sharpton also remembered Jordan as a “true civil rights giant,” while Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison said, “From civil rights to business, Mr. Jordan demonstrated the highest quality of leadership and created a path forward for African-Americans where there were none. He will be missed.” Brendan Morrow

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