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Leon Jordan was born on this date in 1905. He was a Black teacher, police detective, and politician.
Born in Kansas City, MO., Jordan graduated from Wilberforce University, in Wilberforce, Ohio, and later worked as a social caseworker and teacher. In 1938, he joined the Kansas City Police Department, after 16 years becoming the first African American to achieve the rank of lieutenant. He was granted an extended leave of absence in 1947 and lived for eight years in the West African country of Liberia, where he reorganized a 450-man police force.
He left police work soon after his return from Liberia and launched both a business and political career. Jordan was first elected to public office in 1958. He founded Freedom, Inc. in 1962, with his longtime friend and ally in inner-city political affairs Bruce Watkins. The club was established to give Black voters more influence, to develop Black candidates for political office, and fight voter suppression. In 1963, under Jordan's leadership and with a public accommodations ordinance on the ballot, Freedom, Inc. conducted one of the most massive voter registration drives ever seen in Kansas City.
Jordan was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1964. In 1970, Jordan was perhaps the most powerful Black politician in the state of Missouri. He also owned and operated the Green Duck tavern. Jordan was assassinated (shot at close range in a gangland-style killing) in the early morning hours of July 15, 1970, as he was closing his tavern. Although charges were brought against two individuals, no one was ever convicted and Jordan's murder remains unsolved.
The Leon M. Jordan Memorial Park at 31st Street and Benton Boulevard, which features a statue of the slain leader, was dedicated in 1975.
Contemporary Black Biography, various volumes
Edited by Shirelle Phelps
Copyright 1999 by Gale Research, Detroit, London