Researched & Compiled by

Jennifer Jordan, Ph.D., and Delaitre Jordan Hollinger
Dock and Carrie Jordan

Researched & Compiled by

Jennifer Jordan, Ph.D., and Delaitre Jordan Hollinger

Dock Jackson Jordan

October 18, 1866 – October 20, 1943

A commitment to political advocacy, social justice, civil rights, and service to mankind undoubtedly describe the extraordinary life and legacy of Professor Dock Jackson “D.J.” Jordan. Professor Jordan, the son of former slave Rev. Giles Dolphus Jordan who was an ordained minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, was born in Cuthbert, Georgia one year after the Civil War ended (October 18, 1866). Jordan thrived in spite of his impoverished beginnings and the racist segregated environment of rural South Georgia. Although he could only attend school three (3) months of the school year, he managed to graduate from Payne High School, earn a B.S. and L.L.B (law degree) from Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina in 1892, pass the South Carolina bar that same year, and later pass the Georgia bar in 1904. After graduation, he returned to Cuthbert and was nominated by the majority Black Republican Party to run for the Georgia state legislature. He was not elected and did not further pursue political interests or a legal career. Instead, Dock embarked on a stellar career as a college academic, administrator, AME church lay leader, and public intellectual. In 1894, as a delegate to the Republican State Convention, he gave a 10minute speech which aided in defeating white supremacist Tom Watson for nomination as a candidate for Governor of Georgia.

Professor Jordan’s influential educational career, which spanned an impressive six-decades, began at the age of 17 in the colored public schools of Randolph County, Georgia. Notably, he earned the rare privilege of governing at the helm of two of the nation’s oldest HBCUs at the turn of the 20th century. He served as President of Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida (1895—1897), as President of Kittrell College in Kittrell, North Carolina (1909—1912) and as Vice President of Morris Brown College (1897—1905). In 1912, he was recruited to serve as Director of the National Teacher’s Training School at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T), where he was responsible for establishing workshops and conducting training sessions for African-American educators throughout the United States. According to a May 1914 issue of the NAACP’s Crisis Magazine, Jordan worked closely with A&T President James B. Dudley to recruit “some of the most distinguished white and colored educators in the country” to lecture at the state summer schools for “colored” teachers. As an administrator at A&T, Jordan also served as Dean of History and Pedagogy, as a Professor in the English Department, Superintendent of Night School and Instructor in the Academic Department.

In 1914, Jordan began his service as a Professor of English and Government at North Carolina Central University. With Dr. James E. Shepard (Founder and President) and Professors W.G. Pearson, and C.G. O’Kelly, he began the colored summer school in 1919. Notably, Jordan, Shepard, Pearson and O’Kelly also served jointly on the board of directors for the Fraternal Bank and Trust Co. (Mechanics and Farmers Bank) In 1918, he established the history department and was listed as the only history professor at the college until 1939. At his 1941 retirement from NCCU, he was Chairman of the Department History.

Dock Jackson Jordan and Carrie Thomas Jordan, along with others of Durham’s educated elite, may have met with Dr. Carter G. Woodson and others from the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History while at the National Training School in 1925, according to “Persistence and Sacrifice: Durham County’s African American Community and Durham’s Jeanes Teachers Build Community and Schools, 1900-1930.” The goals of the Association were to encourage the study of black life and history in schools, something Professor and Mrs. Jordan would do over the course of their many years of influence in the African-American community. They were members of the “Talented Tenth” and took seriously their duty to uplift their race. The Jordan’s lived in a cottage at 1801 Fayetteville Street (the present-day address of North Carolina Central University) in the historic district of Hayti, which was demolished amid the university’s expansion in 2003.

D.J. Jordan’s influential and provocative essays and articles were published in newspapers and journals, such as the AME Church Review, the Voice of the Negro, the Atlanta Constitution, the Atlanta Journal, The Freeman of Indianapolis, and the Baltimore Afro-American.

In 1901, he co-authored with W.E.B. Du Bois and others an appeal to white Georgia legislators to defeat a bill that would close one-half to two-thirds of black public schools in the state.1 Using data to bolster their argument about the disparities between black and white schools (a strategy used later in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case), the authors stated that only 15% of public school property was owned by black schools, although black children represented 48% of the school population. Du Bois and Jordan found that for every dollar Georgia spent on schools, white children got eighty cents and black children twenty cents.

They concluded, “Black people of this state sacrifice more to the public weal by the taxes they pay on fourteen million dollars of hard-earned property than the whites, whose accumulated wealth is due, at least in part, to the unrequited toil of our fathers.”


Perhaps his most noted editorial was a letter he wrote (July 14, 1917) to President Woodrow Wilson about the treatment of Blacks after the 1917 East St. Louis race riots.2 In what was called one of the worst race massacres in U.S. history, 3000 whites attacked Blacks because they thought newly arrived black migrants from the South were strike breakers. The NAACP reported that the rioters killed over 100 blacks and burned 6,000 homes. In a letter published in many black newspapers3, Dock wrote a scathing piece in which he accused President Wilson of ignoring the plight of Blacks and showing “more disregard of the feelings and rights of Negro Americans since James Buchanan.” Jordan blamed Wilson for the riots and stated, “You have uttered many fine sentiments about the rights of humanity and the glories of democracy, but by your acts you have told your fellow countrymen that you do not regard the Negro as human. . ..” Jordan clearly blamed Wilson for the riots and concluded that white Americans had taken their cue from Wilson about how African Americans should be treated.

His courageous and persuasive remarks resonated with Blacks across the country, and the governor of North Carolina, fearing increased black anger, sent Jordan’s letter to the U.S. Attorney General’s office and the FBI. In addition, he tried unsuccessfully to get Jordan fired from his academic position at North Carolina A&T.

Professor Jordan’s blistering rebuke of President Wilson’s policies and poor treatment of AfricanAmericans has been mentioned in numerous published books, including:

  • Haley, John H. Charles N. Hunter and Race Relations in North Carolina. United States, University of North Carolina Press, 2014.
  • Ellis, Mark. Race, War, and Surveillance: African Americans and the United States Government During World War I. Ukraine, Indiana University Press, 2001.
  • Willink, Kate. Bringing Desegregation Home: Memories of the Struggle Toward School Integration in Rural North Carolina. United Kingdom, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
  • Thuesen, Sarah Caroline. Greater Than Equal: African American Struggles for Schools and Citizenship in North Carolina, 1919-1965. United States, University of North Carolina Press, 2013.

Significant events and timeline in life of Dock Jackson “D.J.” Jordan

  • 1893 to 1895 – Professor at Morris Brown College in Atlanta where he taught Latin, Literature, Science and served as Dean of Law
  • November 1895 – Named Sixth President of Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida; At age 29, he was the institution’s youngest President
  • December 31, 1895 – Married Carrie Thomas, the daughter of Reverend Lawrence Thomas, an influential Atlanta A.M.E. minister
  • 1900 – The degree of M.S. is conferred upon him by Allen University
  • 1897 to 1905 – Returned to Morris Brown as Vice President and Professor of Mathematics
  • 1905 to 1909 – Principal of Grey Street School in Atlanta
  • 1908 – President of the Georgia Association of Colored Teachers
  • 1909 to 1912 – President of Kittrell College in Kittrell, North Carolina (Succeeded John Leonidas Wheeler)
  • 1911 – AME delegate to Fourth Ecumenical Methodist Conference in Toronto
  • 1912 to 1920 – Dean of History and Pedagogy; Head of English; Head of Education; Director of the National Teacher’s Training School at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina
  • 1925 – B.A. degree from Columbia University in New York White graduate institutions often did not recognize the undergraduate degrees blacks attained from HBCUs.
  • 1928 – M.A. degree from Columbia University
  • 1914-1941 – Professor and Founding Chairman of the Department of History; Professor of English and Government at North Carolina Central University
Although his name is not widely known, Dock Jackson Jordan’s accomplishments are well documented in the historical literature. He was acknowledged as “one of the best writers and speakers of the race4,” selected as one hundred of America’s greatest Negroes, and was recognized in “Who’s Who of the Colored Race5.” In spite of the difficult circumstances he faced, his legacy continues to inspire the Jordan family. Dock Jackson Jordan is buried in Beechwood Cemetery in Durham.

Note: Some of the material for this article was summarized from an unpublished essay by Dr. Jennifer Jordan of Howard University, “A Race Man for His Season: Dock Jackson Jordan.”

  • Dubois, W.E.B. February 2, 1901, An Appeal For The Colored Schools In The State Of Georgia. Colored American Magazine, 2(4), p. 262.
  • Haley, J. (1987). Charles N. Hunter and Race Relations in North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • See Raleigh Independent July 14, 1917; Norfolk New Journal and Guide, July 7, 1917
  • Culp. D.W. (1902). Twentieth Century Negro Literature Twentieth Century Negro Literature or a Cyclopedia of Thought on the Vital Topics Relating to the American by One Hundred of America’s Greatest Negroes. Naperville, IL: J.L. Nichols & Co.
  • Mather, F.L. (1915). Who’s Who in the Colored Race. Chicago: Memento Press.
  • Jordan, D.J. (July 1893). “The Philosophy of Progress,” The A.M.E. Church Review 10(1), 11828

Carrie Thomas Jordan

November 27, 1870 – August 11, 1968

Carrie J. Thomas Jordan was guided by a racial uplift educational philosophy and personal determination, as she provided opportunities for impoverished Black children in the Atlanta and Durham communities where she worked. An 1889 graduate of Morris Brown College in Atlanta, she was the daughter of Rev. Lawrence Thomas, one of the founders of Morris Brown College and pastor of the oldest African American church in Atlanta, Big Bethel A.M.E. It was unusual during the early 1900s for white women to have professional careers; it was rare that Black women did. However, Carrie was a “highly skilled and progressive educator1 who served as a teacher, principal, and Jeanes supervisor. It was her contributions as a Jeanes supervisor in Durham, North Carolina from 1923-26 that have been documented.

In 1907, Anna T. Jeanes, a Philadelphia Quaker philanthropist, donated $1 million for the creation of a fund to hire Black supervisors for southern rural schools to improve the quality of education for Black children and their communities. These well-respected women, according to historian Valinda Littlefield,2 were essentially county superintendents for Black schools whose duties included educational issues such as curriculum design and teacher development, as well as community issues related to health, hygiene, illiteracy, and poverty. These considerable responsibilities were implemented with few resources from the state. Their $45 a month salary ($600 in today’s economy) came from Northern philanthropists. Consequently, Jeanes teachers had to raise money to support their own educational initiatives, including building and repairing the schools where they worked.

In 2011, the Durham County Library celebrated the contributions of Carrie Jordan and other noted Jeanes teachers in an online exhibit, The Women Who Ran the Schools: The Jeanes Teachers and Durham County’s Rural Black Teachers.3 Able4 wrote that Carrie complained to the white state supervisor that “many of the schoolhouses were in such poor condition that they were unfit for use.” Carrie decided that the state’s lack of concern for Black education would not deter her resolve to build and repair schools. Consequently, she organized church and community rallies and solicited funds directly from the Chicago philanthropist, Julius Rosenwald. Her efforts resulted in 12 additional schools for Black children.

Because of the low expectations of the white supervisors, the northern philanthropists, or the Black educators themselves, some Jeanes supervisors taught Black girls’ domestic skills like sewing, cooking, and dressmaking and boys farming and carpentry skills. Carrie, on the other hand, developed a curriculum to prepare Black children for a world that neither they nor their community could envision. In her 1923-24 report5 to her white supervisor, N. C. Newbold, she presented an enriched curriculum for Black children that focused on spelling, geography, and nature study. She designed the curriculum based on the State Course of Study Guide that was intended for white students. Referring to her spelling goals she said, “An effort was made to develop in each child a spelling conscience–the ability to know when a word is spelled correctly or incorrectly; to teach the use of the dictionary and the need for looking up words when uncertain of the spelling or meaning of a word. Games and spelling devices were used to motivate the drill and put life and interest into the spelling class.” In order to increase the Black students’ knowledge of geography, Carrie solicited funds from the Black community and the Black Teachers’ Association to purchase maps, globes, and travel magazines which gave her students “an incentive for doing school tasks which they had not had heretofore.”

Some of the school traditions she established continued for decades. For example, she raised $1500 for countywide commencement services where “thousands of blacks gathered to celebrate the achievement of their children.6 She took the highest achievers in the county to Durham State Normal School (now North Carolina Central University) to encourage them to attend college. Undoubtedly, she assisted in their matriculation since her husband, Dock Jordan, was a professor at the institution.

Carrie Thomas Jordan made an incredible impact on the lives of the families of Durham County, North Carolina. Like her father, Rev. Lawrence Thomas, and her husband, Dock Jordan, she was unafraid of the white power structure that tried to restrict the educational aspirations of Black children and their community. Although praised for her work and admired by the Black community for whom she worked tirelessly, she did not continue her assignment as Jeanes supervisor in 1926. Carrie Thomas Jordan is buried in Beechwood Cemetery in Durham.

  • Littlefield, V. W. (1999). “To Do the Next Needed Thing”: Jeanes Teachers in the Southern United States 1908–1934. In Telling Women’s Lives. United Kingdom: Open University Press.
  • Abel, J. Persistence and Sacrifice: Durham County’s African American Community and Durham’s Jeanes Teachers Build Community and Schools, 1900-1930. Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, Graduate School of Duke University, December 9, 2009.
  • Carrie Thomas. Annual Report to N.C. Newbold, September 1923- August 1924. Department of Public Instruction, Division of Negro Education. Special Subject File Box #2, Folder N.
  • Littlefield

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