Hidden Figure: Marion Bond Jordon

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[Dr. Zanice Bond]

On February 7, 1921, Marion B. Jordon was born in Brownsville, Tennessee, to Ollie S. and Mattye Tollette Bond, charter members of their local NAACP chapter. After graduating from Lane College (summa cum laude) in 1941, she accepted a position in New York City with Pepsi-Cola as a national sales representative, a position typically reserved for white males. After completing her tenure, she became a field secretary for the NAACP, which required that she travel across the country extensively. Civil Rights icon and women’s rights activist Mrs. Daisy Lampkin became Marion’s mentor and introduced her to James Jordon. In 1950, Marion married “Jim” and moved to Pittsburgh with him.

NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference (Pittsburgh), Circa 1950s
(L-R) Henry Smith, president; Marion B. Jordon, executive secretary; Daisy Lampkin, executive committee and national board member; Mildred Bond (Roxborough), NAACP field secretary; Charles Foggie, branch president. Photo by Harris Photo, Pittsburgh, PA. Copyright Carnegie Museum of Art, Charles “Teenie” Harris Archive, Pittsburgh, PA.

By April 1952, Marion had become the first executive secretary of the Pittsburgh branch of the NAACP. Her work focused on issues of fair housing, access to education and employment opportunities, and the integration of public accommodations. For many, she became the face and voice of the chapter with speeches before the Senate Sub-Committee on Housing and other agencies. In 1958, Marion resigned her position and hand-picked attorney Derrick Bell as her successor. On December 16, 1958, approximately 300 people attended a dinner honoring her. Membership had grown from 500 to 25,000 during her tenure, and she remains a seminal figure in the Pittsburgh civil rights movement. In 1963, Marion co-founded Project NEED, a higher education assistance program for youth in Pennsylvania. She died on May 3, 2002 at age 81. Her cremains (along with Jim’s) are interred at the columbarium of Riverside Church in New York.

 

Bibliography

Zanice Bond, Race, Place and Family: Narratives of the Civil Rights Movement in Brownsville, Tennessee, and the Nation (Dissertation, University of Kansas, 2011)

Marcy Babbitt, Living Christian Science: Fourteen Lives (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.;Printice-Hall, 1975, 119-127)

Laurence Glasco, “The Civil Rights Movement in Pittsburgh: To Make This City Some Place Special,” (in Commemorative Booklet for Dedication of Freedom Corner Monument, June 2001, 2)

 

 

Zanice Bond, Ph.D., is a Professor at Tuskegee University in Alabama and a 2015-2016 Woodrow Wilson Fellow.