Five months later Jordan ran for Congress as the Democratic nominee for Houston’s 18th District. She won, becoming the first African-American woman from a Southern state to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. With support from her close advisor Lyndon B. Johnson, Jordan was appointed to key posts including on the House Judiciary Committee.
On July 25, 1974, Jordan gave the 15-minute opening statement of the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing for Richard Nixon. Her speech was a staunch defense of the U.S. Constitution (which, she noted, had not initially included African-Americans in its “We, the people”) and its checks and balances designed to prevent abuse of power. She said, “I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.”
The impeachment speech helped lead to Nixon’s resignation over the Watergate scandal and won Jordan national acclaim for her rhetoric, intellect and integrity. Two years later she was asked to deliver the keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention—another first for an African-American woman.
While in Congress Jordan worked on legislation promoting women’s rights, supported the Equal Rights Amendment and cosponsored a bill that would have granted housewives Social Security benefits based on their domestic labor.