By Harvey Dock
Kathleen Jordan, daughter of Hamilton Jordan (President Jimmy Carter’s Chief of Staff) took some time off finishing a book about her late father to speak to Professor Allan Wolper’s Special Topics in Journalism class at Rutgers-Newark. The cozy gathering was an informal collection of many juniors and seniors of the Arts, Media, and Culture Department. Jordan, a Georgia native temporarily residing in New York, shared her thoughts on her father as well as plans to find a publishing company for her book about race, religion, and growing up in the South.
In regards to her book, she said “[it] was 85% complete when my father died in 2008,” and went on to say, “it was important for me to finish the book.” In response to a student’s question about why it was important to finish the book, Jordan said “it was like closure, in a way.”
When asked how she felt about her father’s portrayal in the movie Argo, Jordan said, “I have no problem with the way my father was portrayed.” In fact, she found it quite comical in one particular scene when her dad, played by Kyle Chandler, was called about his kids at school. She said, “the school mentioned in the movie was a rival school of mine,” then said, “in fact, I wasn’t even born when this [the Iran Hostage Crisis] took place”.
When asked by a fellow student ,Collins Agyapong, if she ever uses her name to gain any advantages, she replied, “maybe I’m stupid for not using it, but I never use my father’s name for any advantageous opportunities.” Jordan went on to say, “I have no interest in politics, and I would like to get anything in life on my own merit.”
Jordan, 25, has worked for Comedy Central as a writer, has been a cast and wardrobe production assistant on American Gypsies, and is currently a freelance writer, blogger, and author. If this body of work seems like a lot for a person who just turned 25, it all makes sense when you get to know the Kenyon graduate. Jordan grew up in the deep south of Albany, Georgia, where racism still bites at the doors of freedom.
When referring to her hometown, Hamilton spoke with disdain, saying that “people still use the N-word.” Hamilton said, “[I] grew up having a lot of black friends.” Professor Wolper pointed out how she does not carry a southern accent, which she credits to distancing herself from this region of the country. Although proud of her upbringing, there are many aspects of the South that she does not want to be identified with.
Despite the heat of oppression that still hovers over many parts of the South, Hamilton has been a person who walks to the beat of her own drum. She expressed this with an anecdote, saying “A friend had a black lawn jockey hanging on his mantle, and I asked, ‘what is this?’” Her friend responded, “F%# you,” to which Jordan replied in like fashion, bringing their bond to an abrupt end.