Even as a child growing up in the Fifth Ward of Houston, Texas, Barbara Jordan stood out for her big, bold, booming, crisp, clear, confident voice. It was a voice that made people sit up, stand up, and take notice.

So what do you do with a voice like that?

Barbara took her voice to places few African American women had been in the 1960s: first law school, then the Texas state senate, then up to the United States congress. Throughout her career, she persevered through adversity to give voice to the voiceless and to fight for civil rights, equality, and justice.

New York Times bestselling author Chris Barton and Caldecott Honoree Ekua Holmes deliver a remarkable picture book biography about a woman whose struggles and mission continue to inspire today.

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan was published in 2018 by Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster. There’s lots more information about the book just a click away, but what else would you like to know about it?

Any What Do You Do with a Voice Like That-related who, what, when, where, why, or hows that you’re eager to find out? Just click on “Comment(s)” below, ask me just about anything, and I’ll do my best to answer.


Hi, Romy! For this book — because the subject was both deceased and a public figure — permissions didn’t really come up with regard to telling Barbara Jordan’s story.

Her surviving sister could decide whether to be interviewed (and I did interview her), but I did not have any dealings with Jordan’s estate.

And because What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? was illustrated with original art rather than photos, there were no permissions to clear with copyright holders for those photos.

As for what went into the text vs. the back matter, because this picture book was focused on the development of Barbara Jordan’s voice and how she put that gift to use, even basic biographical details that didn’t lend themselves to that focus went into the back matter.

In other Barbara Jordan books for young readers — and I hope there will be many — some of those details that were not in my main text would be front and center.